SMSU MEN’S BASKETBALL: Big plays from Stafford lead SMSU to road win over WSC

WAYNE, Neb. – True freshman Andy Stafford scored a career-high 13 points, including scoring 11 points late in the second half, to help earn Southwest Minnesota State earn a big 62-59 road victory over Wayne State College in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men’s basketball on Saturday night.

SMSU snapped a two-game losing streak with the victory and improves to 5-9 overall, 2-6 NSIC, while WSC drops to 5-12 overall, 2-6 NSIC.

Kenny Byers led the Mustangs with 24 points and 11 rebounds to notch his seventh double-double of the season. Stafford closed the game making 5 of 7 shots, including a perfect 3 of 3 from 3-point range.

The Mustangs, which played the game with just seven players because of injuries, finished the game shooting 42 percent (22 of 52) from the field and finished making 7 of 15 from 3-point range. SMSU committed a season-high 20 turnovers, but held a 43-32 rebound edge.

Jordan Janssen paced the Wildcats with 25 points and 11 rebounds. WSC shot 35 percent (21 of 60) for the game and connected on 4 of 12 from 3-point range.

SMSU held a 33-32 halftime lead and eventually pushed the margin to 39-34 following a Stafford jumper with just over 16 minutes left in the game.

WSC would rally back and regained the lead with 12:40 remaining and would eventually hold a 50-45 advantage with four and a half minutes left in the game. Stafford then took over as he connected on a 3-pointer at the 4:14 mark and was followed one possession later with an offensive rebound and putback by Weston Baker Magrath to tie the game at 50-50.

Janssen would put the Wildcats back in front with just over three minutes left, but Stafford secured an offensive rebound on the next Mustang possession and moments later drilled a 3-pointer to put SMSU ahead at 53-52 with 2:30 left. Janssen again answered with a field goal to put WSC back in the lead, but Stafford followed with another 3-pointer to put SMSU ahead at 56-54 with under two minutes remaining. Following a stop by the SMSU defense, Stafford scored on a layup with 49 seconds on the clock to make the score 58-54.

WSC cut the lead to 60-59 with three seconds left, but Byers made two big free throws and then Stafford stole the in-bounds pass to seal the victory.

SMSU struggled to begin the game as WSC jumped to a 20-10 lead midway through the first half. Cliff McCray started the comeback with a 3-pointer and was followed by back-to-back 3-pointers by Byers to cut the lead to 20-19 with eight minutes remaining.

The Wildcats would later hold a pair of six-point leads, but the Mustangs rallied in the closing minutes of the half behind a Braedan Hanson 3-pointers, a three-point play by Byers and another field goal by Hanson to take a 33-32 halftime lead.

Southwest Minnesota State returns to the R/A Facility next weekend facing Concordia-St. Paul on Friday night at 7:30 p.m., while on Saturday the Mustangs will take on Minnesota State at 6 p.m.

— Content courtesy

of SMSU Athletic