Lavione West poured in a season-high 16 points and Southwest Minnesota State shot 61 percent from the field to earn a 76-64 victory over Minnesota Duluth on Saturday night in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men’s basketball.
West was one of five SMSU (8-8, 5-4 NSIC) players to score in double figures, with Jordan Miller leading the way with 18 points and eight rebounds. West finished the game connecting on 7 of 9 field goals, while Miller made 7 of 10 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers.
UMD (4-9, 2-7 NSIC), which has lost six of its last seven games, was led by Reece Zoelle and Brett Ervin, who each scored 22 points. Zoelle made 9 of 16 field goals and connected on four 3-pointers.
Nick Smith finished with 13 points for the Mustangs, while Vinard Birch (12) and Matt Zager (10) rounded out SMSU’s double figure scoring.
SMSU finished the game connecting on 30 of 49 field goals, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range. The Mustangs also made 11 of 12 free throws and committed just 11 turnovers. UMD ended the game shooting 44 percent (26 of 59) from the field, but were just 5 of 19 from 3-point range and 7 of 12 from the free throw line.
The first half featured 12 lead changes and two ties, with neither team holding a lead of more than four points in the opening 17 minutes.
UMD held a 29-28 lead following a Brett Ervin jumper with three minutes and 22 seconds left in the half, but SMSU put together a 9-0 run to close the half to build a 37-29 halftime lead. Smith started the run with a 3-point play and following a steal by Tramel Barnes, Miller gave SMSU a 33-29 lead with a field goal. Following another UMD turnover, Smith gave SMSU a six-point lead with a jumper, before Miller – who scored 11 first half points - closed the half with a pair of free throws with five seconds remaining to push the lead to 37-29.
The Mustangs shot 63 percent (15 of 24) from the field in the first half with a pair of 3-pointers on three attempts, while UMD closed the half shooting 41 percent (12 of 29) from the field, including just 2 of 10 from 3-point range.
SMSU maintained the lead throughout the second half, building a 13-point, 56-43 lead with 12 minutes remaining following a layup by West. The field goal started a 9-3 run that was capped by a Zager 3-pointer to push the lead to 63-46 at the 9:31 mark.
UMD countered with a 9-0 run to trim the deficit to 63-54 with 6:40 remaining in the game, but SMSU stopped the run and 10 straight points to put the game away and earn its sixth straight win over UMD in Marshall. UMD’s last victory in Marshall was on Dec. 12, 2004.
Southwest Minnesota State returns to the count in just three days, traveling to Sioux Falls, S.D., to battle the University of Sioux Falls on Tuesday night with game time set for 8 p.m.
Courtesy: Kelly Loft, SMSU
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