SMSU Men’s Basketball: Mustangs shock SCSU on buzzer beater

SMSU’s Mitch Weg (5) celebrates with teammates KJ Davis (14), Taylor Schafer, second from left, and Ryan Bruggeman after making the game-winning shot at the buzzer in the Mustangs’ win over SCSU on Saturday.

MARSHALL – The Southwest Minnesota State University men’s basketball team found themselves locked in a battle with the St. Cloud State University Saturday night. With the score tied at 82, the Mustangs had one final opportunity to take home the win.

Out of the timeout and with 22 seconds left on the clock, Michael Lee put up a contested jumper with four seconds remaining. Lee’s shot bounced off the back of the rim, but Mitch Weg snagged the offensive rebound and banked in the game-winning shot as time expired, propelling the Mustangs to an 84-82 victory over the Huskies.

Weg said he was lucky to be in the right place at the right time on the rebound and putback.

“Definitely not how we drew it up,” Weg said about the play. “I thought Mike had a good look there and it was going to go in, but I figured if there’s any chance it’s going off I have to be around the rim. I got a good bounce; I wasn’t in great position but it came right to me. I had really no time and luckily it went in.”

The first half started with an offensive spurt by the Mustangs, as SMSU went up 8-2. The Huskies responded with a run of their own to tie it at eight before taking a brief lead at 17-16.

SMSU answered with a run, though, going on a 7-1 spurt to take a 23-18 lead.

SCSU cut the deficit to four at 29-25, but the Mustangs countered with a run to push their lead to 41-32 before SMSU led 43-36 at halftime.

In the second half, SCSU cut the deficit once again, pulling to within three before tying the game at 46. Both teams then traded points until Lee hit a 3-pointer to give SMSU a 54-51 lead, a margin that remained for the next few minutes of the game.

SMSU then increased its lead to 65-58 before going up 71-63 with seven minutes remaining. A scoring streak by Taylor Schafer put the Mustangs up 77-69 with 3:40 left, but the Huskies went on a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to 77-75.

Lee found the bottom of the net on a 3-pointer in the corner to push SMSU’s lead ahead to 82-77 with 1:36 remaining. Once again, however, the Huskies responded with a run to keep themselves in the game.

After cutting the deficit to three with a minute to go, SCSU’s Gage Davis created separation on the perimeter and fired a 3-pointer that tied the score at 82 with 22 seconds left.

Five Mustang players ended the game in double figures in scoring, with Schafer (15), KJ Davis (12), Ryan Bruggeman and Lee (11) as well as Weg (10) led the balanced scoring attack for SMSU.

SMSU coach Brad Bigler said he was happy with their team’s adjustments on the offensive end throughout the night.

“I thought we struggled for the majority of the night to get a good rhythm,” said Bigler. “Then in the second half we were able to get some good buckets and got in the paint. I thought our guards did a nice job of going in there and finishing at the rim.”

Weg said their key defensively was their communication, especially down the stretch when they needed stops.

“St. Cloud’s a really tough team to play from a defensive standpoint just because they’ve got so many scorers,” said Weg. “We were doing lots of stuff to counteract that, and more than anything it was the communication on the defensive end. It worked enough to get the stops to win.”

Bigler said their biggest takeaway is learning how to use their leads more effectively in the second half.

“We’ve got to learn how to play with the lead a little bit better. It’s really that 10-minute to the four-minute mark where we’re not executing and defending at a high level and allowing teams to get back into the game.”

SMSU (9-1, 4-1 NSIC) will head to the University of Sioux Falls on Saturday.

Weg said tightly contested games like this help their confidence as a team as they move throughout the season.

“I think the biggest thing is we know now we have the ability to win close games. We’ve had a couple of them and for the most part we don’t get too rattled when things don’t go our way,” said Weg. “I think that’s a big thing in the NSIC because you’re not going to blow everyone out, so to have that ability to win close games is something we can take into the future.”

SMSU 84, ST. CLOUD STATE 82

SCSU   36   46  –   82

SMSU  43   41  –   84

SCORING: SMSU  – Schafer 6-14 1-1 15; Davis 5-8 0-0 12; Bruggeman 4-10 3-3 11; Lee 4-10 1-1 11; Weg 3-4 4-5 10; Kirk 3-4 2-2 8; Bartlett 3-7 0-0 8; Osmundson 2-3 0-0 5; Moen 1-3 2-4 4. Totals 31-63 13-16 84.

3-point goals: SMSU 9-21 (Bartlett 2-4; Lee 2-5; Davis 2-2; Schafer 2-5; Osmundson 1-1; Moen 0-1; Bruggeman 0-3).

Rebounds: SMSU 30 (Kirk 6; Weg 5; Bartlett, Moen 4; Bruggeman, Lee 3; Schafer, Osmundson, Davis 1).

Assists: SMSU 11 (Bruggeman 5; Davis, Osmundson 2; Bartlett, Lee 1).

Blocks: SMSU 1 (Bartlett).

Total fouls–St. Cloud State 15, Southwest Minnesota 20 (Fouled out: Kirk).

Turnovers: SMSU 12.

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