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Sharpshooting SMSU downs MSU WBB, 85-61

Alex Eisen/MDN Minot State senior guard Mariah Payne (4) fades away to make a shot Friday evening against Southwest Minnesota State inside the MSU Dome.

Raining 3-pointers, the Southwest Minnesota State women’s basketball team dismantled Minot State, 85-61, Friday evening inside the MSU Dome.

SMSU (8-8, 3-8 NSIC) tied a season-high with 15 made triples to hand MSU (3-12, 0-11 NSIC) its 11th straight loss.

“Very tough to watch,” MSU head coach Mark Graupe said. “In my time here at Minot State, that’s probably the most frustrating game I’ve ever had to sit through.”

Problems surfaced even before the opening tipoff, as the public address microphone cut out right before announcing the Beavers’ starting lineup.

A bad omen or not, MSU started extremely slow. SMSU made three 3-pointers out of the gate to quickly build up an 11-2 lead.

SMSU never looked back, leading from wire-to-wire. And the 3-pointers only kept coming for the Mustangs. They went 9-for-19 (47.4%) behind the arc in the first half alone.

MSU couldn’t stop the dribble penetration, kept crashing in with help-side defense and left the Mustangs open for a three-point shooting clinic.

“All they do is shoot threes and drive. That’s it. That’s their offense,” Graupe said about SMSU. “It’s a one-on-one, a competition between you and her. Can you defend her drive? We worked on that.

“How many times do you have to work on that? I don’t know. Do you have to work on that for years? We have been doing this for quite a while. Trust me. If people came to my practice, you’d see it be done over and over again. And yet, in the pressures of a game, your habits come under fire. And it’s not a habit if you don’t see it on the court. So, habits haven’t been developed.”

SMSU scored 26 points in both the first and second quarters. MSU kept pace with 26 points in the second quarter as well, but a 10-spot in the opening frame had the Beavers down 52-36 at halftime.

MSU briefly went into a zone defense to start the second half but reverted back to a switching man-to-man defense.

“I said, ‘Let’s throw a different look at them,'” Graupe said. “They were beating us off the bounce, so what do we have to lose? They already had 52 (points) at the half.”

In the end, the result was the same. SMSU ended with a season-high 85 points.

Three Mustangs finished in double figures: Sadie Stelter (16), Meleah Reinhart (15) and Jenna Borchers (14).

MSU senior guard Mariah Payne, 17.3 points per game, had a team-high 15 points by halftime. She didn’t score in the second half.

Haley Hildenbrand chipped in with 13 points and four rebounds. Fellow forward Anna Counts picked up 9 points and six rebounds.

“A 10-point quarter and an 8-point quarter, that’s not going to win too many Northern Sun games,” Graupe said.

It’s not going to get any easier for MSU. The Beavers welcome NSIC South leaders Sioux Falls to the MSU Dome this afternoon. Tipoff at 3:30 p.m.

Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.

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