EDMOND, Okla. - The best players just seem to show up big at the right times.
There's no argument Chris Hagan and Michael Lloyd fall into that category as the MIdwestern State guard combination provided the offensive pop as the Mustangs rolled No. 9 MIssouri Southern 75-52 Sunday night in the NCAA II South Central Region semifinals at Hamilton Fieldhouse.
Lloyd matched a season high with 25 points, while Hagan chipped in 18 points and three assists.
But it took much more than that for Midwestern to clinch its third regional final appearance and a date with the winner of the Central Oklahoma and Fort Hays State contest later Sunday night.
"I was proud of our effort on defense," MSU coach Grant McCasland said. "That credit has to go to our assistant coaching staff (Nelson Haggerty and Tres Segler). That gave us the edge, but it takes everybody."
The Mustangs threw junior guard Kevin Lloyd at MIAA Player of the Year Skyler Bowlin, then the Missouri Southern starting point saw a bit of Hagan and Adrian Van Buren.
It was enough to frustrate Bowlin, the Daktronics South Central Region Player of the Year, into a 2-for-14 shooting night to fall 13 points short of his average with one field goal in each half for five points.
"He (Bowlin) seems to like to get in a rhythm," McCasland said. "I felt like we did a good job of poking at him and beating him to spots. (Our guys) decided we weren't going to let him score."
Bowlin did find time to dish out seven assists, but the Lions could never find a rhythm to finish 30 points under their team scoring average while shooting 33.9 percent from the field.
The Mustangs took control in transition where then held a commanding 22-2 advantage in fast break points including a 16-0 bulge in the opening half.
It was a 13-0 binge by MSU in the first half starting with an alley-oop dunk by Charlie Logan followed by back-to-back fast break layups by Hagan and another transition dunk by Darrick Thomas.
Michael Lloyd continued the run with a 3-pointer before Van Buren converted yet another fast break layup to push the lead to 31-15 with 6:40 to play before halftime.
Missouri Southern used a 10-3 run midway through the second half to put the MSU advantage to 48-42 on a Patrick Hester trey from the top of the key with 12:03 to play.
But Keonte' Logan ignited a 14-2 run with a baseline 3-pointer as the Mustangs pulled away for the victory.
Darrick Thomas led a determined MSU effort on the glass with nine points and eight rebounds while Thomas Colbert added five points and seven rebounds as the Mustangs beat the Lions by a 46-35 margin on the glass.
Jason Adams paced Missouri Southern with 15 points while 6-11 forward Keane Thomann added 13 points and five rebounds.
Midwestern State, which has now won five of its last seven, improved to 24-8, while the Lions closed the season at 26-5.