Despite being down for most of the second half, the Southwest Minnesota State women's basketball team seemed poised to head to overtime. After trailing St. Cloud State for much of the game, the Mustangs tied the game at 67 after Laura Kramer hit an open bucket with three seconds left.
But on the other end, St. Cloud State's Nicole Anderson got just enough room to sink the game-winning three-pointer, burying SMSU 70-67 at Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play Friday at Halenbeck Hall in St. Cloud.
Falling to 1-2 in the NSIC and 2-5 overall, Mustangs head coach Allison Kruger said her team shied away from the gameplan coming into Friday's road game.
"We executed well right away, and then the players decided to go away from it and take things into their own hands," Kruger said.
Anderson dropped 15 points for St. Cloud State, and freshman guard Sam Price led the contest with 18 points.
"She's a good player and we let her get hot," Kruger said of Price. "That's one thing that was in the scouting report and that's exactly what she did to us."
SMSU was led by Abby Kenealy, who finished with 19 points and two blocks. On the perimeter, Tori Fink had 16 points, finishing 6-for-12 from the field.
With nine seconds left and looking to send the game to overtime, Kruger called a sideline set, looking to get the ball in Fink's hands. When Fink had it, she found Kramer open for an easy two.
"We ran one of our normal sideline plays with Abby outside and Tori on the back screen. We added a twist to it," Kruger said. "We brought Kramer high, she got open and we lobbed it to her and executed that play perfectly.
"Then we let down for two seconds and gave them the opportunity to win."
Trying to find a winning formula, Kruger is willing to give her bench more minutes to find the right players for the job.
"We played a lot more kids because I wasn't satisfied with how we came out," Kruger said. "If you're not playing 100 percent, you don't get the privilege of being out there and playing. You can't take your time on the court for granted."
Today, the Mustangs hit the road for another NSIC matchup, taking on Concordia-St. Paul. Kruger said the Golden Bears offer a similar challenge to the Huskies.
"They're undersized in the post and use a lot of dribble penetration on the guards," Kruger said. "We have to have the mindset of shutting someone down and defensively, needing to execute."
Abby Kenealy 8-12 2-2 19, Airelle Eldridge 2-8 0-0 4, Laura Kramer 3-5 0-0 6, Amber Peterson 1-5 0-0 3, Tori Fink 6-12 3-3 16, Sam Abens 1-3 0-0 2, Bree Holleman 3-8 0-0 9, Heather Smith 0-2 2-2 2, Jessie Watts 1-1 0-0 2, Ellen Degler 1-3 2-2 4. Totals 26-59 9-9 67. Three-Pointers 6-23 (Holleman 3-7) Rebounds 31 (Kramer 11) Assists 13 (Holleman 4) Steals 5 Blocks 3 (Kenealy 2) Turnovers 20 Total Fouls 17.
St. Cloud State (70)
Talisha Barlow 2-7 3-4 7, Amanda Wagner 2-9 5-7 9, Christina Steele 3-5 0-0 6, Sam Price 7-14 2-4 18, Nicole Anderson 5-7 2-2 15, Morgan Lof 2-3 0-0 4, Jordi Gerking 2-5 2-2 7, Jennifer Dowd 1-2 1-2 3, Rachael Moen 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 24-52 16-23 70. Three-Pointers 6-14 (Anderson 3-3) Rebounds 33 (Anderson 7) Assists 10 (Anderson 3) Steals 7 (Barlow 3) Blocks 2 Turnovers 21 Total Fouls 13.
Halftime Score: St. Cloud State 30, SMSU 29.