By Alex Oey
MARSHALL - In its final tune-up before the regular season begins on Friday, the Southwest Minnesota State University men's basketball team finished the exhibition season a perfect 3-0 with a 68-49 win over St. Olaf at the R/A Facility on Tuesday.
Southwest Minnesota State’s William Giddings, center, throws down a dunk between St. Olaf’s Charlie Aslesen, right, and Josh Pratt in Monday night’s exhibition game at the R/A Facility in Marshall.
The Mustangs received solid scoring performances from senior Lavione West (14 points) and sophomore Shaun Condon (13) and shot just over 48 percent from the floor as a team in the win.
"I thought we had a lot of good looks, but we weren't knocking them down," said SMSU head coach Brad Bigler. "I think we are going to make those the majority of the time. Overall, we got good shot selection, we just have to be able to knock them down."
SMSU won the battle in the paint and outscored the Oles on fast breaks and from the bench, but the Mustangs committed 20 turnovers, something Bigler knows his team will have to fix.
St. Olaf (49)
Josh Pratt 1-4 0-0 3, Michael Jenson 1-5 0-0 2, Connor Gunderson 3-11 2-2 8, Matthew Hultgren 3-4 1-2 7, Charlie Aslesen 3-7 3-4 10, Sterling Nielsen 1-6 0-0 2, Justin Pahl 3-6 0-0 7, Nathan Kuck 1-22 0-0 2, Riley Aeikens 2-6 0-0 5, Andrew Turnblad 1-1 0-0 2, Andrew Sathoff 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 19-61 7-10 49 Three-pointers 4-21 (Pratt 1-3, Aslesen 1-4, Pahl 1-3, Aeikens 1-2) Rebounds 30 (Aslesen 9, Gunderson 5) Assists 7 (Pratt 2, Jenson 2) Steals 12 (Jenson 2, Nielsen 2, Kuck 2, Aeikens 2) Blocks 1 (Gunderson) Turnovers 11 Total Fouls 16.
William Giddings 2-4 2-2 6, Vinard Birch 1-1 4-4 6, Jordan Miller 2-10 1-1 5, Matt Zager 1-1 2-3 4, Nick Smith 4-5 1-1 9, Tramel Barnes 0-1 2-2 2, Jordan Buddenhagen 1-2 0-0 3, Shaun Condon 5-9 1-2 13, Michael Appel 2-5 0-0 6, Lavione West 7-14 0-0 14. Totals 25-52 13-15 68. Three-pointers 5-18 (Condon 2-4, Appel 2-4, Buddenhagen 1-2 Rebounds 42 (Smith 10, Birch 8, Giddings 7) Assists 17 (Miller 4, Smith 3, Condon 3) Steals 8 (Birch 3, West 2) Blocks 2 (Giddings, Miller) Turnovers 20 Total Fouls 15
Halftime Scores: SMSU 35, St. Olaf 23.
"I think what you saw was our guys had poor patience," Bigler said. "Our patience wasn't very good. We were catching the ball and dribbling right away.
"I think there were times tonight where we were caught up trying to make the highlight play rather than just making a simple play. Those are things we can learn from on film."
In the first half SMSU started out with a big dunk by William Giddings. It was quickly 5-0 after Nick Smith converted the three-point play and led by as many as 17 in the first half.
St. Olaf scored the final four points of the half, going 2-for-4 from the line and making a layup, but the Mustangs went into the half up 35-23.
"I thought their energy was really good," Bigler said. "We ran the floor a lot harder. We put some pressure on St. Olaf."
In the second half, the Oles quickly cut the lead down to seven with a quick 3-pointer and a putback basket, but that's as close as they would get to the Mustangs.
SMSU completed a 10-0 run in the span of just over 90 seconds to stretch the lead to 43-30.
"I think tonight, overall, we may have won the hustle game," Bigler said.
The Mustang players found themselves in a variety of lineups on the night, allowing the coaches to evaluate the combinations in game situations.
"I think tonight was to continue to work on our rotations," Bigler said. "We played a couple different lineups, experimenting with those lineups. When we get a chance to watch it on film we can evaluate what they did."
With the win, SMSU will now prepare for its trip to Anaheim, Calif., where it will open the regular season with Cal State, Dominguez Hills on Friday at the Disney Tip-Off Classic.
"This is going to be a nice test for us," Bigler said. "We're going to face three talented teams out at Disney. It's a different environment, which is going to take us out of our comfort zone a bit.
"And you have to play three games in a row. I think that's a toughness thing. We're going to see where we're at for toughness."