SMSU MEN’S BASKETBALL: Mustangs move into first place tie in division with 82-70 win over Mavericks

Photo by Sam Thiel SMSU’s Ryan Bruggeman drives to the basket during their game against Minnesota State University, Mankato on Friday. The Mustangs defeated the Mavericks 82-70.

MARSHALL – Ryan Bruggeman poured in a season-high 33 points, while dishing out six assists and recording three steals to pace Southwest Minnesota State to an 82-70 victory over Minnesota State on Friday night in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men’s basketball at the R/A Facility.

The victory lifted SMSU into a first place tie in the NSIC South Division standings with MSU. SMSU can clinch at least a share of its second straight division title tomorrow night with a victory over Concordia-St. Paul in Marshall.

SMSU improves to 20-7 overall, 15-6 NSIC, and recorded its second straight 20-win season and sixth in team history.

SMSU entered the game ranked No. 6 in this week’s NCAA Central Region rankings, while MSU was eighth.

SMSU’s Carter Kirk picked up his 14th double-double of the season with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while KJ Davis and Michael Lee each chipped in with eight points.

Kevin Krieger led the Mavericks (20-7, 15-6 NSIC) with career-tying 30 points on 8 of 16 shooting, including 11 of 12 from the free throw line.

SMSU finished the night shooting 48 percent (28 of 59) from the field, including 7 of 14 from 3-point land. The Mustangs also made 19 of 22 from the free throw line and committed just seven turnovers.

MSU ended the game shooting 42 percent (22 of 52) from the field and held a 34-31 rebound edge.

The two teams traded the lead several times in the game’s first 12 minutes, with MSU holding its final lead of the first half at 13-11 with 13 minutes and 16 seconds remaining. Nick Dufault connected on a jumper to tie the game at 13 and spark a 12-1 Mustang run capped by a 3-pointer by Lee to give SMSU a 23-14 advantage with nine minutes left in the half.

MSU would cut the deficit two seven points on two occasions over the next several minutes, but SMSU used another key spurt to build a 38-22 lead with 3:36 remaining following a layup by Kirk.

The lead would eventually balloon to 43-26 with two minutes left on a 3-pointer by Turner Moen, but MSU closed the half on a 9-2 run to cut the SMSU advantage to 45-35 at halftime.

SMSU shot 52 percent in the opening half with Bruggeman scoring 12 points, while Kirk added 11 points and six rebounds.

MSU cut the lead to 51-43 with 16:24 left in the game, but a 3-pointer by Bruggeman, a layup from Kirk and a 3-pointer by Taylor Schafer pushed the margin to 59-43 at the 14:47 mark.

MSU wouldn’t go away and later pulled to within 65-55 with 7:17 remaining, but six straight points by SMSU, capped by a Moen long-range 3-pointer with the shot-clock expiring, pushed the lead to 71-55.

Southwest Minnesota State will face Concordia-St. Paul tonight with tip set for 7 p.m.

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