MARSHALL - It was going to take everyone.
Mired in an 11-game losing streak, the Southwest Minnesota State women's basketball team didn't need one player to step up and provide a lift, the Mustangs needed a collective effort. Friday night against visiting Bemidji State, SMSU was finally able to get the sustained team effort it's been searching for.
After shooting just 29.6 percent from the field in the first half, the Mustangs found their stride in the second half, using a 16-0 run to power their way to a 72-57 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference win over the Beavers at the R/A Facility.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Southwest Minnesota State's Hannah Beeler, left, reaches in to try to steal the ball from Bemidji State's Tatum Lee during the first half of Friday night's Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference game at the R/A Facility.
It wasn't one or two players who stepped up in the second half, where the Mustangs shot 51.9 percent, it was a host of players contributing in a number of different ways.
"That's what we needed. We needed everybody," said SMSU head coach Allison Kruger. "We need everybody to play well, and we did that tonight. Maybe some kids didn't score the ball, but they were good defensively. If you're going to be in the game, you need to bring something, whatever that something may be."
The win moves SMSU to 6-18 overall (5-15 NSIC), while BSU drops to 8-16 (6-13 NSIC) after losing its fourth straight game.
Jessi Corrick 0-2 0-0 0, Samantha Baldwin 4-5 10, Morgan Lee 3-10 3-4 11, Shannon Thompson 2-11 2-3 6, Kate Warmack 3-8 0-0 6, Elie Wessling 5-10 5-6 17, Tatum Lee 1-2 2-4 4, Amiliy Kaus 1-3 1-2 3. Totals 19-54 13-19 57. Three-pointers 6 (Wessling, M. Lee 2, Baldwin 2) Rebounds 32 Assists 10 (Thompson 4) Steals 9 Blocks 4 Turnovers 15 Total Fouls 22.
Abby Kenealy 2-9 5-6 9, Nathalie Svensson 0-4 0-0 0, Bree Holleman 5-11 4-4 18, Courtney McCarthy 1-1 2-2 4, Taylor Voss 3-6 4-8 10, Jessie Watts 1-7 0-0 2, Ellen Degler 2-3 0-0 4, Hannah Beeler 2-3 7-7 16, Hope Bonlander 4-9 0-0 9. Totals 2-54 22-27 72. Three-pointers 6 (Holleman 4) Rebounds 40 (Beeler 9, Voss 6) Assists 14 (Watts 6) Steals 9 (Voss 2, Bonlander 2) Blocks 4 (Watts 2) Turnovers 14 Total Fouls 20.
Halftime Score: SMSU 36, SMSU 29.
SMSU guard Bree Holleman scored a team-high 18 points, forward Hannah Beeler had 16 points with nine rebounds, guard Taylor Voss had 10 points, and Abby Kenealy and Hope Bonlander each added nine points in a well-balanced scoring effort.
There wasn't much balance for SMSU in the first half, as Holleman was the only Mustang to connect on more than one field goal. She hit three three-pointers in the opening half and scored 11 points, but the Beavers were getting points in the paint and on the perimeter and grabbed a 36-29 lead going into halftime. BSU's 5-foot-10 guard/forward Ellie Wessling was a catalyst for her team in the half, shooting 4 of 4 from the field and 4 of 4 from the foul line for 14 points.
Following SMSU's previous game, an 83-55 loss to St. Cloud State, Kruger said her team struggled to make in-game adjustments to adapt to their opponents. They didn't struggle Friday against the Beavers.
"At halftime Coach told us we needed to make adjustments and that's what we did," said Holleman, who hit four threes in the game. "We came out in the second half and did what Coach asked and it turned out good for us."
The Mustangs fell behind 40-31 when BSU's Kate Warmack hit a jumper in the paint 1 minute, 24 seconds into the second half. SMSU proceeded to go on a 16-0 run over the next seven minutes to steal all of the momentum, tying the game on a low-post move by Ellen Degler, and later grabbing a 47-40 lead after a layup by Jessie Watts off a pass from Bonlander.
"It started defensively," Kruger said of the run. "We started getting some stops and then we made a few baskets.
"I thought we did a good job in the second half of just making reads and playing basketball. And we took advantage of our size at the guard position. We got some easy scores with our guards down in the post. I thought we just did a good job of playing basketball."
The Mustangs stretched their lead to 62-52 with five minutes left in the game after a layup by Beeler. They led by double figures the rest of the way.
SMSU won the battle of the boards 40-32 and went 22 of 27 from the free-throw line. The Mustangs also committed just 14 turnovers after giving the ball away 24 times against St. Cloud State last Saturday.
With two games left in the season, SMSU plays its final home game today at 4 p.m. against Minnesota-Duluth. The Bulldogs defeated Minnesota State-Mankato 65-44 Friday night to improve to 15-8 overall and 12-7 in the conference.
Now that the Mustangs have gained a little confidence after stopping their lengthy slide, Kruger hopes they can continue to finish the season strong.
"(Friday's win) just shows that never-give-up mentality that we've shown all season long," she said. "I got into the locker room and I said, 'Next time, let's not wait so long to get another one.'
"We've got to validate this by coming out and playing again (tonight) like we did (Friday)."