Originally published: January 5, 2015
MARSHALL – For a young team like Southwest Minnesota State, a game against a top-25 opponent can put things into perspective.
The Mustangs lost 96-77 to No. 13 Augustana on Saturday night, and, in the process, found out that they still have a ways to go as a team.
“What you see is a team that has been through some battles, and we’re not there yet,” SMSU coach Brad Bigler said. “We have to find a way to be a more complete team on both ends of the floor.”
The 96 points scored by the Vikings were the most points allowed by the Mustangs this season.
It was Augustana’s second-highest single-game scoring total of the season and fifth time scoring over 90 points in a game.
Despite the offensive production, Augustana coach Tom Billeter wasn’t happy with his team’s defensive effort.
“Thank goodness we played alright offensively, because we sure didn’t guard very well,” Billeter said.
SMSU finished the game shooting 50.8 percent (33-65) from the field, which included hitting 42% from 3-point range.
Joey Bartlett led the Mustangs in scoring with 14 points, including 4-7 from behind the arc.
Mitch Weg scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds, while Carter Kirk added 10 points.
Augustana converted on 58.8% of their shots, including 14 3-pointers in the game.
Bigler said going into the game that the goal was to take away Augustana center Daniel Jansen, who entered the game second in the Northern Sun averaging 18.7 points per game, scored just four first-half points.
“We made other guys make shots, and that’s where guys like [Tanner] Odegaard and [Jordan] Spencer stepped up to make big plays for them.”
Spencer finished the game with 17 points, while Odegaard scored a career-high 14 points in the game. Odegaard entered the game shooting just 7-25 from long range, but went 4-5 against SMSU on Saturday night.
Despite his slow first-half start, Jansen finished with 20 points, just one point behind Casey Schilling’s team-high 21 points. Schilling also led Augustana with 11 rebounds in the win.
With the loss, SMSU falls to 9-5 overall and 5-3 in NSIC play.
Saturday was the beginning of a tough, six-game stretch for the Mustangs, including games against traditional NSIC powers Winona State and Minnesota State. SMSU will travel to Winona State on Saturday after a road game at Upper Iowa Friday night, who defeated the Mustangs earlier this season in Marshall.
“We have to be careful going into this five-game stretch, that we keep an even keel. It’s important we understand how to handle adversity,” Bigler said. “We have to stay invested and on the same page, and I think we will. We have good leadership with our seniors and Mitch [Weg] and Joey [Bartlett]. They recognize the challenge we have ahead and are willing to understand that we need to continue to get better.”