SMSU MEN’S BASKETBALL: SMSU holds off Golden Eagles to earn 82-75 win

Photo by Sam Thiel SMSU’s Carter Kirk puts up a layup between a pair of University of Minnesota Crookston defenders during their game on Friday. The Mustangs won 82-75.

MARSHALL – Ryan Bruggeman scored a game-high 22 points, his seventh 20-point game of the season, to pace Southwest Minnesota State to an 82-75 victory over Minnesota Crookston in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men’s basketball on Friday night at the R/A Facility.

SMSU (12-5, 8-3 NSIC) held a 21-point lead in the second half, but UMC (8-9, 5-6 NSIC) rallied to cut the deficit to 62-57 midway through the half, before the Mustangs made enough plays down the stretch to seal the victory.

SMSU has now was 21 straight over UMC and hold a 29-1 advantage since UMC joined the conference in 1999-2000.

The Mustangs had five players reach double figure scoring, including Taylor Schafer who poured in a season-high 16 points-all in the first half. Carter Kirk scored 15 points with a team-high eight rebounds, while KJ Davis and Michael Lee both chipped in with 12 points. Turner Moen dished out a career-high eight points and grabbed six rebounds.

UMC’s Harrison Cleary, who entered the game ranking fifth in Division II averaging 24.3 points per game, scored 19 points on 7 of 15 shooting, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range.

SMSU closed the game shooting 58 percent (33 of 57), while making 9 of 19 from 3-point range. The Mustangs also held a 32-28 rebound advantage.

UMC shot 43 percent (27 of 63) from the field, which included 9 of 21 from behind the 3-point arc.

The Golden Eagles built an early 17-12 lead with 13:40 remaining in the opening half and later held a 20-17 advantage at the 10:30 mark.

SMSU then went on an impressive 27-7 run during the next eight minutes, connecting on 11 of 15 field goals, with five 3-pointers, to build its largest lead of the half at 44-27 with 2:09 left. Schafer scored 11 points during the run with Lee and Bruggeman each scoring six points.

SMSU shot 57 percent (19 of 33) in the opening half, including 7 of 12 from 3-point range. The Mustang defense forced the Golden Eagles into seven turnovers in the half.

Davis would give SMSU a 58-37 lead early in the second half, before UMC rallied with a 21-4 run over a six and a half minute stretch, to cut the deficit to 62-58 with 10:41 remaining.

Bruggeman hit a pair of free throws to stop the run and then hit a jumper before Davis scored on a layup to push the lead to 68-58.

UMC would continue to push and eventually made the score 78-75 with 1:00 remaining, but a jumper from Bruggeman extended the margin to 80-75. Following a missed 3-pointer by UMC, Bruggeman was later fouled and hit both free throws with 29 seconds left to seal the win.

Southwest Minnesota State continues its weekend homestand tomorrow night facing Bemidji State (7-9, 4-7 NSIC) at 7 p.m. BSU defeated Sioux Falls, 74-68, on Friday night in Sioux Falls, S.D.

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