SMSU MEN’S BASKETBALL: Wayne State pulls away late to take out Mustangs

WAYNE, Neb. – Wayne State, ranked No. 9 in this week’s NCAA Central Region rankings, snapped a tie game with less than four minutes left in the game and pulled away to earn an 86-77 victory over Southwest Minnesota State in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men’s basketball on Friday night.

WSC, which remains in a first place tie with Minnesota State in the NSIC South Division standings, improves to 19-8 overall, 14-7 NSIC. The Wildcats shot 64 percent in the second half to complete the regular season sweep over the Mustangs for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.

SMSU drops to 15-12 overall and 10-11 in the NSIC. With Winona State losing at home to Concordia-St. Paul, the Mustangs will be the No. 5 seed from the NSIC South Division in the upcoming NSIC Tournament which starts on Wednesday night.

Ryan Bruggeman led the Mustangs with a game-high 27 points while adding seven assists, six rebounds and three steals. Michael Lee added 11 points with a pair of 3-pointers, while Taylor Schafer and Kenny Byers both chipped in with 10 points.

The Mustangs finished the night shooting 46 percent (30 of 65) from the field, but were just 8 of 25 from 3-point range. SMSU committed just seven turnovers but was outrebounded by a 42-25 margin, which led to a 16-2 scoring edge in second chance points.

Jordan Janssen paced the Wildcats with 17 points and 16 rebounds with teammate Kendall Jacks also scoring 17 points and pulling down seven rebounds. WSC closed the game shooting 54 percent (31 of 57) with seven 3-pointers.

SMSU led for more than 13 minutes in the opening half and built its largest lead at 31-25 with 2:20 remaining following a jumper from Schafer.

WSC then put together one of the key stretches of the game closing the half on a 9-0 run to rally and earn a 34-31 halftime edge.

The Wildcats scored the first three points of the second half and would eventually build a 57-47 advantage with 12 minutes remaining in the game.

SMSU fought back with Michael Lee completing a three-point play and followed with a 3-pointer before Bruggeman scored on a layup to pull SMSU to within 57-55.

WSC would hold a 65-59 lead with 8:28 remaining, but SMSU answered with a 13-7 over the next four minutes to tie the game. The Mustangs rallied behind 3-pointers by Bruggmean, Nick Dufault and Grant Kramer to highlight the run before Schafer tied the game with a jumper to make the score 72-72.

WSC would then score four straight points off of offensive rebounds to regain the lead at 76-72 with just over three minutes left. Bruggeman would cut the deficit to 76-74 with a pair of free throws at the two-minute mark, but Jacks scored on a layup and was followed moments later by a Trevin Joseph three-point play with 55 seconds remaining to seal the win.

Southwest Minnesota State concludes the regular season on Saturday facing Augustana University at 5:30 p.m. at the Elmen Center on AU’s campus.

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