Southwest Minnesota State put together a key 15-2 run midway through the second half to pull away for a 70-60 victory over the University of Sioux Falls in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference opener for both teams on Saturday night.
SMSU is now 4-4 overall, 1-0 NSIC, while USF suffered its first loss of the season and drops to 4-1 overall, 0-1 NSIC.
Jordan Miller scored a team-high 16 points to lead SMSU, while Vinard Birch added a season-high 11 points and four assists. Lavione West also reach double figure scoring for SMSU with 11 points and six rebounds.
Derek Brown came off the bench to lead USF with a season-high 23 points on 7 of 12 shooting with five 3-pointers.
The two squads played a tight game for the first 30 minutes, before SMSU put together a key run midway through the second half to earn the victory.
USF’s Alex Robey scored with nine minutes and 32 seconds left in the game to trim SMSU’s lead to 40-39, but moments after the basket, USF’s Jerry Dixon was called for a technical foul sending SMSU’s Jordan Buddenhagen to the free throw where he made both shots. Nick Smith then added to the lead with a field goal to give SMSU a 44-39 lead and a four-point possession.
SMSU would limit USF to just one point in the next three minutes and extended the lead to 55-41 with six minutes left in the game and the Mustang lead never dipped below double digits.
Both teams struggled offensively in the opening half with SMSU shooting 38 percent from the field, including 1 of 8 from 3-point range, while USF shot just 36 percent from the field. The two teams combined to commit 17 turnovers in the opening half.
SMSU held a slim lead for much of the game’s opening seven minutes before USF took its first lead of the game at 10-9 with 12 minutes and 46 seconds remaining on a jumper by A.J. Holland.
SMSU regained the lead at 12-10 following a 3-point play by Miller at the 12:32 mark, but SMSU went cold from the field and was held to just one point in the next six minutes as USF took its largest lead of the half at 20-13 following a 3-pointer by Derek Brown.
The Mustangs rallied with their own run, using a 9-2 spurt to tie the game at 22-22 with 3:39 remaining on a layup by Vinard Birch.
The two squads combined to make just one field goal the remainder of the half and went into the locker room tied at 25-25.
SMSU finished the game shooting 50 percent (21 of 42) from the field, including 62 percent in the second half. USF ended the evening shooting just 36 percent (19 of 53) from the field, including 7 of 23 from 3-point range.
SMSU held a 34-25 rebound advantage, but committed 16 turnovers, compared to just 10 for USF.
Southwest Minnesota State continues NSIC play next Friday, Dec. 7, at Augustana College with tip-off slated for 8 p.m.
Courtesy: Kelly Loft, SMSU