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MEN'S BASKETBALL: Birch saves Mustangs

SMSU nearly loses 20-point lead as Smith scores 1,000th point of career

January 6, 2014
Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - Vinard Birch hit the game-winning layup with 0.1 seconds remaining to lift Southwest Minnesota State to a dramatic 70-68 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference victory against Minnesota State-Moorhead on Saturday night at the R/A Facility.

The Dragons' Tarell Clark made 1 of 2 free throws with 5 seconds left to tie the game at 68, setting up the final play for the Mustangs. Following a timeout, Birch grabbed a pass in the backcourt and drove the floor to score the game-winner just before the final horn and give SMSU (9-5, 6-2 NSIC) its fourth straight victory - its longest win streak of the season.

"When I come into a game, I try to be aggressive by taking anything the defense gives me," Birch said. "If they are going to give me the lane, I'm going to take it. If they close down, I'll drive and kick the ball to our shooters on the perimeter."

Article Photos

Photo by Jeff Arenz
Southwest Minnesota State’s Will Giddings attempts an off-balance layup against Minnesota?State-Moorhead during a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference game Saturday at R/A Facility.

Birch finished with a season-high 20 points on 8 of 11 shooting with three steals and three assists.

Nick Smith, who also had a big game, reached a career milestone for the Mustangs. Smith scored his 1,000th point with a baseline jumper at the 12:36 mark of the first half. He is the 18th player in SMSU history to score 1,000 career points.

"This is a really cool feeling to score 1,000 points," Smith said. "I know this feat is not all about me because I have played with a lot of good players who have helped me get here. Coach Brad Bigler also put me in the right position to make me be successful."

Smith finished the night with his first double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Matt Zager also reached double figures with 18 points on 5 of 8 shooting.

The Mustangs shot 46 percent (21 of 46) from the floor and made 25 of 30 free throws, while holding a 38-33 rebound margin. MSU-Moorhead shot 38.1 percent (24 of 63) from the field, including 9 of 23 from 3-point range, but was just 11 of 20 from the foul line. The Dragons committed eight turnovers, including just one in the final 20 minutes.

The Dragons (9-3, 5-3 NSIC), which dropped their third straight game, were led by Jordan Riewer and Urbane Bingham, who each scored 17 points. Bingham helped lead MSU-Moorhead from a big first-half deficit, scoring all of his points in the second half.

Smith said MSU-Moorehead presented the Mustangs with a great challenge.

"They gave us some matchup problems and we did a good job of holding them in check in the first half," Smith said. "In the second half, they exposed us at the end, but we toughed it out."

SMSU took an 8-2 lead in the game's first 5 1/2 minutes as the Dragons missed their first seven shots of the game. MSU-Moorhead cut the margin to 10-8 at the 13:45 mark, before the Mustangs put together a 9-0 run during the next 2 minutes with seven of the points coming from Zager to push their lead to 19-8.

The Dragons made another mini-run midway through the half to trim the deficit to 25-19 with 7:40 remaining, but SMSU countered with 14 unanswered points, capped by a 3-pointer from Joey Bartlett to make the score 39-19 with 1:54 left before halftime.

MSU-Moorhead closed the half by scoring the final seven points to cut the Mustangs' lead to 39-26 at the break.

SMSU shot 52 percent (13 of 25) from the field in the first half, while MSUM was held to just 31 percent (9 of 29) shooting.

The Dragons continued to cut into the Mustangs' lead in the second half before tying the game at 50 with 10 minutes left on a 3-pointer by Tyler Vaughan.

Mitch Weg briefly gave SMSU a one-point lead, before the Dragons took their first lead of the game at the 9:05 mark with a layup by Jordan Riewer to make the score 52-51.

The Mustangs answered with an 8-2 run, with a layup by Birch and six straight free throws from Birch, Weg and Zager to make the score 59-54 with 6:29 remaining.

MSU-Moorhead tied the game twice during the 3 minutes, before taking the lead back with 2:12 left on a free throw by Clark. Following a missed field goal by SMSU, Riewer gave the Dragons their largest lead of the game (65-61) by drilling a 3-pointer with 1:41 remaining.

Birch countered with a clutch three-point play to cut the margin to 65-64 with 1:32 left. Riewer missed a 3-pointer on MSU-Moorhead's next possession and the Mustangs took advantage as Zager was fouled with 1:07 left and sank both free throws to put SMSU in the lead at 66-65.

The Dragons regained the lead on a Clark layup, following his own missed shot, before the Mustangs answered with a go-ahead basket by Birch with 31 seconds remaining.

"Moorhead is a good team that is not going to be held down for too long, but coming back from a 20-point deficit is unbelieveable,"?Birch said. "They gave us a big blow and we responded. We came back with a stong effort and made some clutch plays at the end."

The Dragons did not call timeout on its ensuing possession and with 7 seconds left, Clark missed a shot, but grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 5 ticks remaining, setting up the final dramatic plays.

Southwest Minnesota State returns to action at 8 p.m. Friday, playing at NSIC North Division rival St. Cloud State (9-3, 5-3 NSIC).

SMSU 70,

MSU-MOORHEAD 68

MINNESOTA STATE-MOORHEAD (9-3 OVERALL, 5-3 NSIC NORTH): Ngijol Songolo 1-5 2-2 5, Jordan Riewer 6-14 2-2 17, Tarell Clark 4-8 2-8 10, Prescott Williams 0-4 0-0 0, Matt Nelson 0-1 0-0 0, Aaron Lien 1-4 0-0 2, Tyler Vaughan 3-8 0-0 9, Urbane Bingham 6-12 3-4 17, Taylor Filipek 1-5 2-3 4, Isaac Sevlie 2-2 0-1 4. TOTALS: 24-63 (38%) 11-20 (55%) 68.

SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA STATE (9-5 OVERALL, 6-2 NSIC SOUTH): William Giddings 1-5 0-0 2, Vinard Birch 8-11 4-5 20, Drew Osmundson 0-1 0-0 0, Mitch Weg 0-0 5-8 5, Shaun Condon 1-3 0-0 2, Travis Meinders 0-0 0-0 0, Joey Bartlett 1-4 2-2 5, Matt Zager 5-8 6-6 18, Cole Martin 0-2 0-0 0, Nick Smith 5-12 8-9 18. TOTALS: 21-46 (46%) 25-30 (83%) 70.

HALFTIME: Southwest Minnesota State 39, MSU-Moorhead 26. 3-POINT FIELD GOALS: MSU-Moorhead 9-23 (Riewer 3-6, Vaughan 3-7, Bingham 2-5, Songolo 1-2, Williams 0-1, Nelson 0-1, Lien 0-1); Southwest Minnesota State 3-10 (Zager 2-3, Bartlett 1-4, Martin 0-2). REBOUNDS: MSU-Moorhead 33 (Clark 9); Southwest Minnesota State 38 (Smith 11, Giddings 5, Weg 5). TOTAL FOULS (FOULED OUT): MSU-Moorhead 21; Southwest Minnesota State 17. TECHNICAL FOULS: None. ASSISTS: MSU-Moorhead 12 (Riewer 3, Songolo 3); Southwest Minnesota State 9 (Birch 3). STEALS: MSU-Moorhead 8 (Williams 3); Southwest Minnesota State 7 (Birch 3). BLOCKED SHOTS: MSU-Moorhead 5 (Sevlie 2); Southwest Minnesota State 4 (Smith 2). TURNOVERS: MSU-Moorhead 8; Southwest Minnesota State 13.

Friday

SMSU 77,

NORTHERN STATE 43

NORTHERN STATE (10-3 OVERALL, 5-2 NSIC NORTH): Mitch White 1-4 2-2 4, Seth Bachand 3-5 1-5 7, Jared Hannigan 2-4 0-0 5, Tydan Storrusten 2-6 0-0 5, Spencer Pankonin 1-2 0-0 3, Darin Peterka 2-5 1-4 5, Trent Zomer 0-4 0-0 0, Tanner Heiser 1-3 0-0 2, Michael Schreiber 0-2 0-4 0, Carter Evans 3-7 0-2 6, Skye Warwick 2-6 0-0 6. TOTALS: 17-35 (35%) 4-17 (24%) 43.

SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA STATE (8-5 OVERALL, 5-2 NSIC SOUTH): William Giddings 1-4 0-0 2, Vinard Birch 4-7 0-0 8, Drew Osmundson 0-0 2-2 2, Mitch Weg 3-4 0-1 6, Shaun Condon 4-6 1-2 11, Travis Meinders 1-2 0-0 3, Joey Bartlett 6-6 3-4 20, Matt Zager 2-3 0-0 5, Cole Martin 2-4 0-0 5, David Condon 0-0 0-0 0, Nick Smith 7-15 1-1 15. TOTALS: 30-51 (59%) 7-10 (70%) 77.

HALFTIME: Southwest Minnesota State 40, Northern State 20. 3-POINT FIELD GOALS: Northern State 5-17 (Warwick 2-5, Pankonin 1-2, Hannigan 1-3, Storrusten 1-3, Zomer 0-1, White 0-1, Peterka 0-1, Heiser 0-1); Southwest Minnesota State 10-20 (Bartlett 5-5, S. Condon 2-2, Zager 1-2, Meiners 1-2, Martin 1-3, Smith 0-4). REBOUNDS: Northern State 27 (Bachand 7, Evans 5); Southwest Minnesota State 32 (Smith 9, S. Condon 5). TOTAL FOULS (FOULED OUT): Northern State 13; Southwest Minnesota State 15. TECHNICAL FOULS: None. ASSISTS: Northern State 9 (Zomer 3, Storrusten 3); Southwest Minnesota State 17 (Birch 7, Giddings 2). STEALS: Northern State 4 (Schreiber 1, Peterka 1, Zomer 1, Storrusten 1); Southwest Minnesota State 10 (Weg 4, Giddings 2, Birch 2). BLOCKED SHOTS: Northern State 1 (Schreiber 1); Southwest Minnesota State 2 (Smith 2). TURNOVERS: Northern State 18; Southwest Minnesota State 12.

 
 

 

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