MARSHALL - In a hard-fought game where the Southwest Minnesota State men's basketball team led by as many as 13, it all came down to the final 27 seconds in Friday's Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference showdown.
"When you play a game like this against a quality opponent, you come in and just try to outwork them, play scrappy," said SMSU head coach Brad Bigler. "We knew we had a size disadvantage and that extra effort was going to have to be there to make up for it."
A pair of free throws by Minnesota State-Mankato's Wooten Gage gave the Mavericks only their second lead of the second half.
Photo by Alex Oey
Southwest Minnesota State’s Lavione West (22)?is knocked off balance by Minnesota State-Mankato’s Connor O’Brien (42) during the first half of Friday’s Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference game at the R/A Facility at SMSU.
"We hit a couple shots," said Mankato head coach Matt Margenthaler, whose team won 85-84. "We haven't been shooting the ball well and we didn't shoot the ball well for about 38 minutes tonight."
With Mankato, which is ranked No. 21 in the nation, up 82-81 the Mustangs had the opportunity to take the last shot of the game, but the Maverick defense had other plans.
With time winding down, SMSU's Matt Zager drove and missed the layup. Nick Smith was forced to foul, sending Mankato's Jarvis Williams to the line with nine seconds on the clock.
Jarvis Williams 7-15 13-14 27, Zach Monaghan 6-9 5-7 20, Gage Wooten 0-3 2-4 2, Connor O'Brien 0-3 2-2 2, Assem Marei 9-13 5-12 23, Jaymeson Moten 1-3 0-0 3, Alex Hanks 0-2 0-0 0, Jimmy Whitehead 2-7 0-0 5, Zach Romashko 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 26-58 27-39 85. 3-pointers 6-16 (Monaghan 3-4, Moten 1-3, Whitehead 1-2, Romashko 1-2, Hanks 0-1, Wooten 0-2, O'Brien 0-2) Rebounds 40 (Marei 11, Williams 9) Assists 11 (Monaghan 5) Steals 5 (Monaghan 3) Blocks 2 Fouls 16 Turnovers 10.
Tramel Barnes 3-7 2-3 8, Vinard Birch 2-6 1-3 5, Jordan Miller 8-14 6-6 25, Matt Zager 4-7 0-0 8, Nick Smith 10-15 0-1 20, William Giddings 2-6 0-1 4, Jordan Buddenhagen 0-1 0-0 0, Shaun Condon 3-3 0-0 6, Lavione West 3-9 2-2 8. Totals 35-68 11-16 84. 3-pointers 3-8 (Miller 3-5, Zager 0-1, Giddings 0-1, Buddenhagen 0-1) Rebounds 36 (Barnes 8, Smith 7) Assists 16 (Barnes 4, Miller 3) Steals 5 (Miller 3) Blocks 3 (Miller 2) Fouls 24 Turnovers 8.
Halftime Score: MSU 41, SMSU 38.
Williams hit both free throws, extending the lead to 84-81.
Mankato (7-1, 3-1 NSIC) didn't allow the Mustangs (5-6, 2-2 NSIC) a chance to tie when Jaymeson Moten fouled Vinard Birch near mid-court, sending him to the line to shoot two with 6.4 seconds left on the clock.
Birch missed the front end of the bonus, forcing Smith to foul the Mavericks' Assem Marei with 5.5 seconds left.
Marei hit the first of two, which meant Jordan Miller's 3-pointer as the clock expired put the Mustangs just short, falling to Mankato 85-84, despite shooting a season-high point total.
"We were fortunate to make some plays down the stretch," Margenthaler said. "(SMSU) made some great plays all night long and just didn't execute some things down the stretch."
Bigler added, "We had our opportunities to win the game and unfortunately we missed two layups and the front end of a 1-and-1 when we needed it the most."
SMSU started the game strong, jumping out to an early eight-point lead before Mankato was able to take its first lead of the game at 27-26 with 6:45 left in the half.
SMSU regained the lead for a brief time before the Mavericks took the final lead of the half, 41-38.
"At halftime you have a lot of game left," Bigler said. "You never panic, you're never too high or low, you just try to fix some things.
"We went over our game plan and corrected what we were making mistakes on."
In the second half Miller and Smith turned it on, scoring a combined 17 of their 45 points in a stretch that lasted just over nine-and-a-half minutes. Miller and Smith had season-high totals of 25 and 20, respectively, in the loss.
With 9:53 on the clock, the Mustangs had their largest lead of the night, 61-48.
Mankato slowly chipped into the lead, cutting it down to a single point with 1:13 left to play.
SMSU, which only shot 16 total free throws to the Maverick's 39, missed two crucial free throws, which were both on the front end of the bonus, including one that was re-shot for a lane violation.
The Mustangs were also out-rebounded on the offensive glass, with several of the Mankato rebounds coming on missed free throws.
"That would be a very big disappointment. We work on that almost every other day in practice," Bigler said. "It's something that we've tried to correct, we know it's a weakness and we've addressed it, but now we need to carry it over to games."
SMSU was unable to hold on down the stretch, falling to Mankato 85-84.
The Mustangs turn around and play host to Concordia-St. Paul tonight. The Golden Bears (1-6, 0-4 NSIC) fell to the University of Sioux Falls on Friday night, 77-68.
"Being able to have a short memory is always important," Bigler said. "It was a tough one, but fortunately we have an opportunity to come back and get after it. We'll see where we are at (tonight)."