Mustang Basketball comes up short

Southwest Minnesota State rallied from a nine-point deficit with less than nine minutes remaining in the game to earn a 74-70 victory over No. 3 seed East Central University (Okla.) in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament on Sunday night.

“I think our guys showed a lot of toughness and resiliency over the last few games.” Said Head Coach Brad Bigler.

They would need that toughness to win against the number 1 seed in the region and overall, Northwestern Missouri St (NMS) in the reginal final.

Early in the game, SMSU traded blows with the number one seed. NMS was able to grab a number of possession saving offensive rebounds, resulting in many second chance points.

Point Guard Ryan Brugerman, MVP of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament, was able to keep the Mustangs close with a couple pull up jumpers from 15 feet on back to back possessions.

Carter Kirk got his 3rd foul with just over 6 minutes left in the first half, the score was 20-17 in favor of the Bearcats.

The two teams went on a scoring drought the rest of the half going into the break with the score at 24-19.

Early in the second half, Kirk picked up his 4th foul, sidelining him for nearly the rest of the game.

Scoring again came at a premium to start the second half. Both teams had multiple empty possessions.

With 10 minutes left in the game, NMS pushed the lead to 7 with a mini run of 6-0. The score was 39-31.

The Mustangs struggled to get stops throughout the second half, as the only way SMSU could get the ball back was off of a missed shot. SMSU struggled to force turnovers all game long.

Taylor Schafer hit a big three with just over 4 minutes left to pull the Mustangs within 3.

With the next possession, NMS was able to grab 3 offensive rebounds and took about a minute off of the game clock and finally added 2 points to stretch the lead to 5.

Schafer hit a tough 3 point shot to shrink the lead to 2 wth the following possession.

With just over a minute, SMSU trailed by 3. Mitch Weg was fouled and hit 1 of 2 free throws to make the score 50-48.

NMS hit their free throws down the stretch to clinch the win.