SMSU MEN’S BASKETBALL: Big second half start paces MSUM past Mustangs, 98-79

MOORHEAD – MSU Moorhead used a 20-2 run to open the second half, breaking open a one-point halftime lead, to pull away and earn a 98-79 victory over Southwest Minnesota State in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men’s basketball at Nemzek Fieldhouse on Friday night.

MSUM, which improves to 17-8 overall, 11-6 NSIC, held a 45-44 halftime advantage, but the big start to the second half over the first five-plus minutes proved to be the difference in the game. Travaun Coad led the Dragons with 22 points on 8 of 11 shooting with four 3-pointers.

MSUM closed the game shooting an outstanding 54 percent (35 of 65) with 10 3-pointers and held a 47-26 rebound advantage.

SMSU, which had its three-game winning streak snapped, drops to 13-10 overall, 8-9 NSIC. The Mustangs had five players score in double figures with Ryan Bruggeman scoring a team-high 22 points on 10 of 20 shooting. Nick Dufault and Michael Lee each poured in 15 points, combining to drill eight of SMSU’s nine 3-pointers. Taylor Schafer (13) and Kenny Byers (10) both finished in double figuring scoring as well, while Braedan Hanson grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.

The Mustangs finished the night shooting 43 percent (29 of 67) from the field, including 9 of 26 (35 percent) from long-range.

SMSU jumped out to an early seven-point lead, 17-10, after Lee hit three straight free throws at the 13:49 mark of the first half.

The score was tied six times and the lead changed four times in the first half. Schafer hit a jumper with just over a minute left in half to give SMSU its last lead of the game at 42-40, before MSUM scored five straight points and eventually took the one-point lead into the break.

MSUM scored the first 11 points of the second half until Lee ended the streak with a layup at the 16:09 mark to cut the deficit to 56-46.

The Dragons would later push the advantage to 63-46, but the Mustangs rallied with a 9-1 run behind six points from Byers and a 3-pointer by Dufault, to trim the deficit to 64-55 with 11:53 left in the game.

MSUM would later hold a 66-57 lead with just under 11 minutes remaining, before using a 14-2 run over a three-minute span to extend the margin to 80-59 with 8:16 remaining to pull away for the victory.

Southwest Minnesota State concludes the weekend today taking on Northern State with tip-off slated for 6 p.m.

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