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SMSU MEN’S BASKETBALL: Mustangs end season in thrilling fashion with overtime win over Cougars

MARSHALL — The Southwest Minnesota State men’s basketball team closed out the 2020-21 season with a dramatic, come-from-behind 76-69 overtime victory over the University of Sioux Falls at the R/A Facility on Sunday afternoon.

SMSU sent the game into overtime on a last-second tip-in by Jake Phipps, capping a sequence that saw the Mustangs score three points in the final five seconds of regulation and knock out USF from postseason play. SMSU trailed by 15 points midway through the second half.

In the extra frame, SMSU made 3 of 4 field goals and were a perfect 5 of 5 from the foul line to help snap a seven-game losing skid. USF made just 1 of 11 field goal attempts in overtime and had its season end at 7-5 overall, 5-5 NSIC South. A victory by USF on Sunday would’ve sent the Cougars into next week’s eight-team NSIC Sanford Health Tournament.

SMSU, which closed the shortened season with a 3-8 overall mark, including 1-6 NSIC South, had a pair of players come through with big games to help earn the victory. Phipps scored a career-high 22 points on 8 of 9 shooting and grabbed six rebounds, while Sam Schwartz poured in a career-high 15 points on 6 of 10 shooting. Kaden Evans added 18 points, while Nick Dufault scored 12 points, all in the second half and overtime, to round out SMSU’s double figure scorers.

Sunday’s game was the final in a Mustang uniform for seniors Weston Baker-Magrath and Dufault. Baker-Magrath finished his last game with a game-high four blocked shots and two rebounds.

The Mustangs finished the game shooting 47 percent (25 of 53) from the field, including 4 of 16 from 3-point range. After a tough opening half shooting, SMSU came through in the final 25 minutes of the game shoot 56 percent in the second half and overtime with four 3-pointers.

The Cougars shot just 33 percent (24 of 73) from the field with nine 3-pointers. Despite holding a 54-33 rebound advantage, including 28 offensive rebounds, USF was only able to register 13 second chance points. Chase Grinde paced the Cougars with 21 points with five 3-pointers, while Pal Teathloach added 10 points and had a monster game on the board with 19 rebounds.

Trailing 51-36 with 10 minutes left in the game, SMSU started its comeback as Schwarz hit three straight field goals, including a 3-pointer with 8:26 remaining to cut the deficit to 51-43.

USF maintained a 52-43 lead with 6:55 on the clock before Dufault converted a three-point play to start a 7-0 run and cut the USF margin to 52-50 at the 5:45 mark following a Phipps layup. USF came right back and scored five straight points to push the lead once again to seven points at 57-50 with 4:30 left.

Grant Kramer connected on a big 3-pointer to pull SMSU to within four and Dufault later added a pair of free throws to make the score 57-55 with just over three minutes left in regulation.

USF would hold a 59-58 advantage after SMSU’s Kaden Evans went 1 of 2 from the foul line before Grinde drilled a huge 3-pointer to give the Cougars a 62-58 lead with 1:42 remaining. SMSU came right back as Dufault, playing his final game in a Mustang uniform, hit a 3-pointer to cut the USF led to 62-61 with 1:28 left.

SMSU had pair of chances to take the lead in the final minute, but both Phipps and Dufault missed field goal attempts, including one with five seconds left, and USF was able to score the rebound. Pal made both free throws to push the lead to 64-61.

On the ensuing possession, Evans was fouled near half-court with three seconds left. Evans made the first attempt before missing the second and the ball was batted out of bounds off USF. Moments later, Schwartz lofted a perfect pass to Phipps, who scored as the buzzer sounded to send the game into overtime.

The Mustangs would score the first six points of overtime behind two free throws from Phipps and jumpers from Dufault and Evans to take a 70-64 lead with 2:54 on the clock.

USF wouldn’t go away and scored five straight to cut the SMSU lead to 70-69 with 1:47 remaining. On SMSU’s next possession, Evans came through with one of the game’s biggest plays as he drilled a 3-pointer and was fouled on the shot with 1:20 left. Evans made the free throw to extend the SMSU lead to 74-69 and USF went scoreless the rest of the way.

After SMSU scored the game’s first two points, USF answered with a 3-pointer and never trailed again in the first half. Holding a 15-11 lead with 11 minutes remaining in the half, USF would use 7-2 run over the next three and a half minutes to build a 22-13 advantage.

The Cougars would later hold another nine-point cushion at 27-18 with 3:49 left in the half but was held scoreless for the remainder of the half. The Mustangs couldn’t take advantage and scored just two points in the final four minutes as USF took a 27-20 lead into halftime.

SMSU shot 33 percent in the first half and was 0 for 7 from 3-point range. USF shot 30 percent but made five 3-pointers and held a 23-14 rebound edge in building its halftime lead.

Saturday

USF 61, SMSU 52

MARSHALL — The University of Sioux Falls held Southwest Minnesota State to two points over a 13-minute span to rally back and earn a 61-52 victory in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men’s basketball on Saturday inside the R/A Facility.

Nick Dufault led SMSU with 16 points on 5 of 11 shooting with three 3-pointers, while Jake Phipps scored eight points, grabbed four rebounds, and registered two blocked shots. Cliff McCray grabbed a team-high six rebounds and had three steals.

SMSU finished the game shooting 38 percent (19 of 50) from the field but were just 5 of 21 (24 percent) in the second half.

USF, which held a 44-26 rebound advantage with 15 on the offensive end, held a 14-3 scoring advantage on second chance points. The Cougars closed the afternoon shooting 38 percent (21 of 55) from the field with three 3-pointers. Chase Grinde paced the Cougars with 16 points, while Troy Hougton added 14 points.

SMSU held a 33-26 advantage with 1:35 left in the first half, but the USF defense was outstanding in the second half, limiting the Mustangs to two points in the first 12 minutes, to rally and build a 45-35 lead.

Cliff McCray would end the drought with a 3-pointer at the 7:53 mark and the Mustangs would later pull to within 47-45 with 6:05 left following three Dufault free throws.

McCray would later hit one of two free throws with 4:08 left to cut the deficit to 51-49, but the Cougars answered back with a big 10-1 run to seal its third straight win inside the R/A Facility.

SMSU jumped out to an early 8-2 three minutes into the game, but USF answered with a big run to take its largest lead of the half at 17-13 with 12 minutes left in the half.

SMSU would later hold a 20-19 advantage with just over six minutes remaining in the half before Nick Dufault hit a jumper and was followed by a layup by Jake Phipps to push the lead to 24-19.

At the three-minute mark, SMSU’s Sam Schwartz created a steal and converted a layup to give the Mustangs’ its largest lead of the half at 29-22. USF countered with four straight points, but a Grant Kramer layup and another fast-break layup by Schwartz extended the lead to seven points once again at 33-26 at the 1:35 mark.

USF scored the last four points of the half to cut the deficit to 33-30 at halftime.

SMSU limited USF to 34 percent shooting in the opening half and forced eight turnovers.

The Mustangs then went ice-cold shooting to start the second half, making just one of its first 13 shots and committing eight turnovers in the first 12 minutes.

— Content courtesy

of SMSU Athletic

Communications

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