SMSU MEN’S BASKETBALL: Bruggeman and Kirk lead SMSU to victory over Northern Michigan

MOORHEAD – Ryan Bruggeman scored 20 points while teammate Carter Kirk added 17 points and 17 rebounds to lead Southwest Minnesota State to an 85-78 victory over Northern Michigan University in men’s college basketball on Saturday afternoon at Nemzek Fieldhouse.

The game was part of the Microtel Classic hosted by MSU Moorhead. SMSU, which improves to 3-2 overall, finished the classic 2-0 after defeating Michigan Tech on Friday night. Both Bruggeman and Kirk were named to the five-person all-tournament team.

Turner Moen (14) and KJ Davis (10) both scored double figures as well to aid the Mustang offense. Davis also dished out a team-high four assists and added two steals.

SMSU finished the game making 33 of 41 free throws, while NMU was 6 of 7 from the foul line.

The 17 rebounds for Kirk was a career-high and is the highest total by an SMSU player since Scott Roehl pulled down 18 on Feb. 26, 2011. Mitch Weg was the last SMSU player to record 15 rebounds in a game on Dec. 2, 2014.

For the second straight game, SMSU rallied to win despite trailing at halftime. The Mustangs shot 50 percent from the field in the second half and made four 3-pointers to erase a 42-38 halftime deficit.

SMSU shot 48 percent (23 of 48) overall including 6 of 11 on 3-pointers. SMSU forced NMU into 13 turnovers, which the Mustangs turned into 23 points. SMSU committed 10 turnovers, but NMU capitalized with just six points.

SMSU scored the game’s first four points and maintained the lead for much of the first, including 26-17 with 9:58 remaining following a 7-0 run highlighted by a Michael Lee 3-pointer and capped by a Davis layup.

The Wildcats would rally back and tie the game at 30-30 at the 4:49 mark, but four straight points by Kirk push the Mustangs back in front. NMU answered back with an 8-0 run to close the half-including a pair of 3-pointers by Isaiah Johnson-to build a 42-38 halftime advantage.

The lead would move to 44-38 early in the half, but a 3-pointer by Lee and a 3-pointer by Moen tied the game at 46-46, before a Kirk dunk pushed SMSU in front at 48-46.

NMU rallied and eventually built a 64-60 lead midway through the half before SMSU used a 12-0 run over the next three minutes to regain the lead and pull away. A Moen 3-pointer started the spurt and a pair of Bruggeman free throws put SMSU in the lead at 65-64 with 8:49 remaining, snapping the 12th tie of the game.

A 3-pointer by Lee pushed the lead to 68-64 and was later followed by a field goal from Davis and two free throws by Moen to push the margin to 74-66.

The Mustangs sealed the victory making numerous free throws down the stretch, including making its first 19 in the second half.

Southwest Minnesota State closes out non-conference play on Tuesday night hosting Division III Crown College with tip-off slated for 7 p.m.

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