There aren't many NCAA Division II teams better than No. 5 Midwestern State.
And West Texas A&M found that out Wednesday night at First United Bank Center as it needed every ball to bounce its way as the Buffs were credited with a 60-56 win over the Mustangs.
It's just the third loss of the season for MSU who fell to 22-3 on the season and to 14-3 in Lone Star Conference play.
The Mustangs can clinch the top seed in next week's LSC Postseason Tournament and a share of the LSC title with a win over Eastern New Mexico Saturday night at D.L. Ligon Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. or 25 minutes following the conclusion of the women's game which begins at 5.
The Mustangs overcame a sluggish start as WT held them to four points over the opening 13 minutes of the contest as the Buffs built a 16-4 lead.
But MSU connected on a flurry of 3-pointers including a pair by senior guard Keonte' Logan and JaMichael Rivers and another by Michael Loyd as the Mustangs pulled to within 29-23 at the intermission.
The Mustangs battled back to take the lead on an 8-1 run and led 45-41 when Michael Loyd nailed his third 3-pointer of the game with 8:33 to play.
The Buffs answered by scoring 10 straight points on the strength of seven makes in eight trips to the charity stripe over a stretch of 1:09.
West Texas A&M finished the game with 31 free-throw attempts to 10 for MSU as the Mustangs committed 24 fouls to the Buffs' 13.
Still, the Mustangs worked their way back to within 58-56 when David Terrell converted a three-point play off of a fast-break feed from Loyd with 1:55 to go.
That's when the situations ended up being too much for MSU as the Mustangs made a stop to earn the opportunity to tie the game, but three calls by referee Cal Smith impacted the final 100 seconds of the game.
First, a moving pick in a congested lane on Logan forced MSU into a turnover with 1:41 to go. The edge remained at two until Smith called a touch foul on an inbounds play to place WT's Lionel Foster at the line with 38.5 seconds left.
Foster, who finished with 15 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the charity stripe, made one of two to push the advantage to three.
After an MSU timeout, Smith hit the Mustangs with a quick 5-second call to give the Buffs the ball once again with 28.2 seconds to play.
Foster then hit 1-of-2 on his next trip to the line to seal the game for the Buffs.
Loyd finished with a game-high 18 points, while Terrell went 6-for-6 from the field to close with 13 points and four rebounds.
Kennon Washington came off of the bench for 14 points and seven rebounds for West Texas A&M.
The Buffs clinched the No. 3 seed in the LSC tournament while moving to 18-6 on the season and to 12-5 in league play.
Midwestern State took over the top spot in the South Central Region Rankings Wednesday afternoon as released by the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Committee.
The Mustangs (22-2) had won six consecutive games and 10 of their last 11 and took over the top spot after claiming a thrilling triple overtime win over Tarleton State last week at D.L. Ligon Coliseum.
The Texans slipped to second followed by Arkansas Tech, Missouri Southern, Washburn, Central Missouri, Northwest MIssouri State, Texas A&M International, West Texas A&M and Incarnate Word.
The top eight teams from each of the eight regions advance to the postseason which will be played from March 10-13 at campus sites.
Tournament selections will take place via a Web cast selection show on NCAA.com on Sunday, March 4.
The winners of each regional gain a berth into the Elite Eight which is played at the Bank of Kentucky Center from March 21-23 in Highland Heights, Ky.
The South Central Region consists of the Lone Star Conference, Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association, Great American Conference and Heartland Conference.
The winners of the LSC, MIAA and Heartland conferences postseason tournament earn an automatic bid into the postseason, while five others gain at-large access.
Midwestern State is the two-time South Central Region champion advancing to the Elite Eight in 2009 and 2010. The Mustangs have made six NCAA Division II postseason showings.
West Texas A&M's Ashley Leven's career effort was too much for Midwestern State to overcome Wednesday night at First United Bank Center.
The senior from Amarillo scored 25 points and grabbed seven rebounds allowing the Lady Buffs to overcome a five-point halftime deficit to edge MSU 71-69.
Midwestern has now lost three consecutive games to fall to 18-7 on the season and to 14-5 in Lone Star Conference play.
The Mustangs, who will head into next week's LSC Postseason Tournament as the No. 3 seed, close the regular season Saturday night against Eastern New Mexico at D.L. Ligon Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m.
MSU senior guard Savannah Carver worked for a team-high 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting and snagged six rebounds in 25 minutes of play. It was the Canyon Randall High product's best game in her third return to her hometown.
The Mustangs led by as many as 10 points in the opening half when freshman Taylor Dowd hit a pair of free throws for a 30-20 advantage with 4:57 to play until halftime.
MSU carried a 34-29 advantage into the intermission, but the Lady Buffs stormed out of the locker room on an 8-2 run and reclaimed the lead 41-39 on a Devin Griffin layup with 14:52 to play.
WT pushed the advantage to as many as eight points, but the Mustangs just wouldn't go away.
Carver bombed in a 3-ball from 24 feet and sophomore Kirsti Degelia connected on another trey to pull MSU to within 58-57 with 5:37 to play.
That's as close as the Mustangs would get as the West Texas A&M improved to 17-8 on the season and to 15-4 in league play.
Freshman Andrea Carter added 12 points and five rebounds off of the bench, while Degelia finished with 11 points, five assists and four rebounds.
Sophomore forward Skyler Warrick and freshman guard Shatoia Gober each returned from injury for the Mustangs.