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SMSU MEN’S BASKETBALL: Mustangs drop second straight with tight loss to Stonehill College

DULUTH – Stonehill College (Mass.) connected on 12 3-pointers and used several big runs in the second half to pull away and earn an 84-78 victory over Southwest Minnesota State in men’s college basketball on Friday night at the Minnesota Duluth American Family Insurance Classic at Romano Gymnasium.

The Skyhawks, picked to finish second in the Northeast Division in the Northeast 10 Conference, improves to 2-1 with the victory. Will Moreton scored a game-high 21 points with four 3-pointers to pace the Skyhawks, which finished the game making 18 of 23 free throws.

SMSU, which drops to 1-2 overall, made 11 3-pointers on the night, but were just 3 of 9 from the foul line. The Mustangs had five players in double figures with Grant Kramer and Nick Dufault each scoring 13 points, while Kenny Byers (12), Cliff McCray (11) and Weston Baker Magrath (10) also reached the double figure mark.

SMSU shot 50 percent (32 of 64), including 11 of 22 from 3-point range, while also holding a 38-33 rebound edge, but the difference in the game was the 15-point margin for Stonehill from the free throw line.

Byers led the Mustangs with 11 rebounds and recorded his third straight double-double to open the season. Braedan Hanson pulled down nine rebound, while Brian Dayman added eight points and seven rebounds. Baker Magrath finished the game with four blocked shots.

SMSU started the game strong building an early 14-7 lead in the first five minutes, but Stonehill used a 12-0 run to build a 19-14 edge with 12 minutes remaining in the half.

The Mustangs regained the lead at the 7:21 mark, 26-23, following a 3-pointer by Brian Dayman, and would later hold a 37-35 advantage with just over a minute remaining, before the teams settled for a 37-37 tie at halftime.

Kramer started the second with a 3-pointer, but the Skyhawks would connect on four 3-pointer in the first six and a half minutes of the half to take its largest lead of the game at 60-51.

SMSU answered back and eventually cut the deficit to 61-60 with 10:35 remaining following a field goal by Kramer, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Brandon Twitty pushed the Stonehill lead to 67-60.

The Mustangs would put together a few more rallies in the second half, twice pulling to within one-point in the final five-plus minutes. Byers scored a layup with 3:45 left to make the score 73-72, but two free throws, an SMSU turnover and a three-point play by Stonehill advanced the margin to 78-72 with 2:30 remaining and the Skyhawks would go on to earn the victory.

Southwest Minnesota State continues play on Saturday facing Northern Michigan with tip-off slated for 3 p.m.

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