SMSU MEN’S BASKETBALL: Northern State uses blistering shooting to hold off Mustangs

ABERDEEN, S.D. – Northern State, the top-team in the NSIC, showed why Saturday, shooting a blistering 65 percent from the field with 12 3-pointers to earn a 91-81 victory over Southwest Minnesota State in men’s basketball.

SMSU, which drops its second straight game, is now 13-11 overall, 8-10 NSIC. Taylor Schafer tied a career-high with 25 points to pace SMSU, while Ryan Bruggeman added 21 points. Kenny Byers chipped in 15 points for the Mustangs, which closed the game shooting a solid 55 percent (33 of 60) with seven 3-pointers.

NSU improves to 19-5 overall, 15-3 NSIC. The Wolves made 30 of 46 field goals on the night, including 12 of 21 from 3-point range. Gabe King led the Wolves with a team-high 23 points on 7 of 8 shooting with three 3-pointers.

The Wolves hit five 3-pointers in the game’s opening six-plus minutes to build an early 23-14 advantage. The lead would eventually move to 13 points at 40-27 with seven and a half minutes left in the half, but SMSU would rally and cut the deficit to 42-37 following a layup by Bruggeman at the 3:55 mark.

NSU would push the lead back to nine points late in the half before settling for a 51-44 halftime lead.

SMSU trailed 61-52 at the 17-minute mark of the second half, but quickly answered behind field goals by Nick Dufault and Kolin Bartlett and then a pair of baskets by Schafer-including a 3-pointer-to tie the game at 61 with just under 14 minutes left in the game. NSU would answer in a big way with a 12-2 run to build a 10-point advantage at 73-63 midway through the second half.

SMSU wouldn’t go away and cut the lead to 76-71 following a Grant Kramer field goal at the 6:13 mark, but six straight points by NSU would allow the Wolves to pull away for the victory.

Southwest Minnesota State returns home next weekend for its final two regular home games at the R/A Facility. SMSU takes on Upper Iowa on Friday, with game time set for 7:30 p.m., before facing Winona State on Saturday.

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