February 20, 2011 at 3:57 AM CST - Updated June 23 at 11:03 AM
CANYON, Texas - Missed free throws and turnovers are a recipe for disaster at any level of basketball.
That was certainly true Saturday night at First United Bank Center where No. 23 West Texas A&M rolled to a 68-56 win over Midwestern State.
"I thought our guys competed hard, but I also thought we made some bad mistakes with the basketball in some bad areas," MSU coach Grant McCasland said. "The tougher team is going to make the tough plays in these situations, and tonight, that was them."
The Mustangs misfired on 8-of-19 from the charity stripe and was on the short end of a 13-3 points off turnover margin for the game.
West Texas A&M (20-5, 7-5) extended a 27-26 halftime lead to a nine-point advantage in the opening five minutes of the second half, and then the Buffs were quicker to the ball over a 7-minute stretch after MSU closed to 41-36 with 12:35 to play.
WT rattled off a 14-2 run highlighted by two breakaway dunks by Courtney Carr and another by LaDarius Hall as the Buffs expanded their advantage to 55-38 after a pair of Rod Little free throws with 5:33 to play.
"When a game is this competitive in the half court, you can't give layups," McCasland said. "They were able to do that and that was the difference in the game."
Midwestern suffered through its second lowest team shooting percentage of the season at 39.2 percent and the lowest since shooting 36.7 percent last month at Central Oklahoma.
Still, the Mustangs weren't done.
Michael Loyd hit the second of his four second half 3-pointers to stem WT's run with 5:20 to play to ignite a 15-3 run.
Loyd followed back-to-back layups by Chris Hagan and Charlie Logan with consecutive treys before the Mustangs pulled within 58-52 after Hagan connected the back end of a two-shot foul with 1:52 to play.
Hagan had kept the Mustangs close with 10 first-half points and finished with 20 points, but MSU couldn't get any closer.
Loyd added 16 points with all but two points coming in the second half, while Adrian Van Buren and Charlie Logan pitched in 8 and 6 points, respectively.
Hall paced the Buffs with 20 points, while Jacquiese Holcomb added 13 points and four rebounds.
WT point guard Lionel Foster was credited with 10 assists which was one more than the entire Mustangs team, who came into the contest averaging an LSC-best 17 a game as a team.
Midwestern (19-6, 7-4) remains in sole possession of second place, but is just a half-game ahead of the Buffs.
The Mustangs take on LSC South leading Tarleton State Monday night at D.L. Ligon Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. or 25 minutes following the conclusion of the women's game which begins at 6.