SMSU MEN’S BASKETBALL: Winona State rallies in second half to down SMSU

WINONA — Winona State rallied from an eight-point second half deficit using a late 19-3 run to earn a come-from-behind 68-56 victory over Southwest Minnesota State in NSIC men’s college basketball inside McCown Gymnasium on Saturday night.

SMSU, which was playing its final road game of the regular season, dropped its fifth straight game and is now 7-19 overall, 4-16 NSIC. The Mustangs close the regular season with a pair of home games next Friday and Saturday.

Cliff McCray led the Mustangs with a career-high 16 points on 5 of 7 shooting with five rebounds. Grant Kramer and Jake Phipps each added 10 points, with Phipps making all five field goals attempts, while also grabbing a team-high eight rebounds.

WSU improves to 15-11 overall, 12-8 NSIC, and has now won eight of its last 11 games. On Senior Night at WSU, senior Caleb Wagner scored 29 points on 10 of 20 shooting with four 3-pointers to help the Warriors rally for the victory. Teammate Kevion Taylor added 20 points and 10 rebounds and also made four 3-pointers.

SMSU shot 44 percent (20 of 45) from the field with six 3-pointers, while WSU shot 41 percent (23 of 56) overall with eight 3-pointers. WSU committed just six turnovers and forced SMSU into 14 turnovers.

The Mustangs held a 49-41 advantage following a 3-point field goal by Andy Stafford with just over 11 minutes left in the game. WSU answered with six straight points, including two by Wagner, before SMSU’s Kenny Byers hit a jumper with 7:42 remaining to give SMSU a 51-47 lead.

Wagner would remain red-hot for the Warriors as he scored 12 consecutive points to help give WSU a 60-52 advantage with 2:47 left in the game. Byers would hit two free throws to cut the deficit to two possessions, but WSU countered with six straight points to seal the victory.

Wagner started the game with a 3-pointer and would later connect on another to help WSU build an early 11-6 lead. SMSU, which led for nearly 25 minutes in the game, would rally back and used four straight points by McCray to build a 24-18 advantage with five minutes left in the first half.

WSU answered back with an 11-4 run to close the half and take a 29-28 lead into the break.

McCray would put SMSU back in front with a 3-pointer to start the second half and the Mustangs would maintain the lead for much of the next 10 minutes until WSU used its big run to rally for the win.

Southwest Minnesota State will face Wayne State next Friday, with tip-off slated for 7:30 p.m. SMSU closes the weekend on Saturday hosting Augustana at 6 p.m.

— Content courtesy

of SMSU Athletic



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