Southwest Minnesota State kept its season alive tonight earning a 68-45 victory over Wayne State in the quarterfinals of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference/Sanford Health Tournament at the Sanford Pentagon.
SMSU (19-11), the No. 3 seed in the South Division, will now face top-seeded Minnesota State (27-4) tomorrow night in the semifinals starting at 8:30. MSU, the NSIC regular season champion, has defeated SMSU twice this season.
WSC, the No. 7 seed in the South, ends its season with a record of 9-19. WSC advanced to tonight’s game following an upset over the No. 2 seed in the North, Bemidji State on Wednesday night.
SMSU, which never trailed in the game, was led by Vinard Birch and Shaun Condon, who both scored 16 points, while William Giddings added 15 points. Mitch Weg grabbed a game-high six rebounds to pace the Mustangs.
The Mustangs finished the game shooting 41 percent (21 of 51), including 5 of 18 from 3-point range. SMSU made 21 of 22 free throws, held a 34-27 rebound advantage and committed just nine turnovers, including just three in the second half.
The Wildcats ended the night shooting 34 percent (16 of 47) from the field, including 3 of 15 from 3-point range. WSC committed 15 turnovers, which lead to SMSU recording a 20-6 scoring advantage on points off of turnovers.
SMSU jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the game’s first two minutes behind field goals by Birch and Zager and a 3-pointer from Giddings. Following a field goal by WSC’s Ryan Rolfzen, SMSU countered with a 13-5 run in the next three minutes and 43 seconds capped by back-to-back layups by Zager and Birch to push the lead to 20-9 at the 11:57 mark.
SMSU maintained a 29-19 lead with 2:37 remaining before the Mustangs closed the half with a 7-2 run closed by a Birch layup with seven seconds left to give SMSU a 36-21 halftime lead.
Birch paced the Mustangs with 14 points in the first half making 6 of 7 field goals. SMSU shot 52 percent in the half, held a 19-12 rebound advantage and limited WSC to 29 percent shooting.
SMSU pushed the lead to 43-25 early in the second half behind a monster dunk from Giddings and a 3-pointer by Condon with 16 minutes left in the game. The Mustangs then built a 58-34 advantage with nine minutes left following a 3-pointer by Joey Bartlett and the lead never dipped below 17 points the remainder of the game.
Adol Aluong led Wayne State with 13 points.
Courtesy: Kelly Loft, SMSU