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SMSU MEN’S BASKETBALL: Second half scoring drought proves costly in conference opener

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Southwest Minnesota State was limited to 24 points on 26 percent shooting in the second half as the University of Sioux Falls rallied from a halftime deficit to earn a 74-56 victory in men’s college basketball at the Stewart Center on Saturday night.

Saturday was the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference opener for both teams as USF improves to 5-2 overall, 1-0 NSIC, while SMSU had its two-game winning streak snapped and drops to 3-4 overall, 0-1 NSIC.

USF shot a blistering 60 percent from the field in the second half and closed the game shooting 50 percent (23 of 46). The Cougars dominated on the glass, holding a 41-19 rebound advantage, leading to an 11-0 scoring edge on second chance points. USF also made 25 of 33 from the free throw line.

SMSU finished the game shooting 39 percent (19 of 49), including 7 of 21 from 3-point range.

Nick Dufault scored a season-high 17 points to pace the Mustangs, making 4 of 7 shots with two 3-pointers, while making a career-high seven free throws. Cliff McCray added a career-high 14 points on 6 of 13 shooting, while Kenny Byers chipped in with 12 points and a team-high five rebounds.

SMSU maintained a lead for much of the first half, including holding a seven-point lead at four different times in the half. Byers hit a jumper to give SMSU a 15-8 advantage at the 12:37 mark, but USF rallied with a 9-2 run to tie the game at 17 with 8:44 remaining.

Dufault and McCray would connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Mustangs back in front and would later use a Kaden Evans 3-pointer to hold a 28-22 lead at the 5:26 mark. McCray would score on a layup to give SMSU a 32-25 advantage with three minutes left in the half, but USF would close the half with five straight points to cut the deficit to 32-30 at halftime.

SMSU shot 55 percent in the opening half and drilled six 3-pointers.

The late first half run sparked the Cougars into the second half as they scored the first two points of the half and used a 15-7 run in the first six minutes to build a 45-39 lead.

Weston Baker Magrath would hit a layup for SMSU to cut the USF lead to 47-44 with 10:40 left in the game, but the Cougars answered back with a 16-2 run over the next five-plus minutes to put the game away.

Chase Grinde had a huge game for the Cougars scoring 19 points on 7 of 8 shooting with seven rebounds.

Southwest Minnesota State, which has played just two home games this season, will continue action away from home next Friday, facing Minnesota State with game time at 7:30 p.m. SMSU will then play at Concordia-St. Paul on Saturday.

— Content courtesy

of SMSU Athletic

Communications

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