MSU's Season Comes To A Close

Note: NCAA restrictions prohibit us from posting video of MSU's Elite 8 game against Western Washington.

History was just out of grasp for No. 5 Midwestern State Wednesday afternoon in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight quarterfinals.

For the third straight year, the Mustangs dropped a heartbreaker as No. 12 Western Washington held on for a 64-63 win to advance to Thursday's semifinals.

The Vikings (29-5) will face unheralded Stonehill (Mass.), a 91-90 upset winner over No. 3 West Liberty (W. Va.) earlier in the afternoon. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. (Central Time).

The loss couldn't put a damper on another history season for MSU, which advanced to the Elite Eight with its third consecutive South Central Region championship while claiming a sixth Lone Star Conference title to finish with a 29-4 mark.

"We worked really hard in the offseason to get past this point," MSU senior forward David Terrell said. "I'm really proud of us for getting back, but…"

The Houston native scored a game-high 21 points off of the bench while pulling six rebounds with two steals.

"Last year, we were kind of happy to make it back and we didn't approach the game the right way," MSU senior guard Keonte' Logan said. "We approached it the right way today and fought hard the whole game, but it just didn't go our way."

The Mustangs controlled the game early by racing out to a 16-2 lead when Darrick Thomas completed a three-point play with 10:30 to go in the opening half, but failed to stretch out the lead missing on a few shots right at the rim.

"I really felt like we missed a few easy ones that normally go down for us," MSU coach Nelson Haggerty said. "They starting getting some offensive rebounds and gained confidence. That turned the game with how they were able to get back into the game before halftime"

Western Washington outscored the Mustangs 25-11 over the final 10 minutes of the opening half and tied the game at 27-27 on Richard Woodworth's tip in at the buzzer.

"We made some turnovers and we weren't playing smart offensively," Haggerty said. "When things come so easily for you early, I just felt like we lost focus. I felt pretty good holding them 27 points and felt like we would start getting into a rhythm offensive like we normally do."

But it was the Vikings who found their rhythm hitting a 60.9 percent clip from the field in the second half and would lead by as many as five points when Rico Wilkins connected on a 3-ball for a 53-48 advantage with 6:52 to play.

As it had all season, Midwestern just kept coming drawing to within a point on DeJuan Plummer's lone 3-pointer of the game with 3:19 to play.

Western Washington answered with a trey from point guard John Allen, who finished with 14 points.

The teams exchanged buckets again as Allen answered another Plummer jumper by finding space for a driving layup to give WWU a 64-60 lead with 1:03 to go.

MSU senior guard Michael Loyd bombed in a 3 to cut the lead to 64-63 with 41.2 seconds to play.

The Vikings opted to run clock and settled for a guarded Allen trey attempt with 12 seconds play and MSU Thomas Colbert was whistled for a loose ball foul on a 50-50 rebound to send Richard Woodworth to the line for a one-and-one.

Woodworth missed the front end, but Western Washington scrambled for the rebound running six precious seconds off of the clock in the process before Loyd finally fouled Paul Jones with 4.3 second to play.

Jones missed both free throws giving the Mustangs one last gasp.

"It probably would have been better if he made the (second) free throw," Haggerty said. "We had planned to set a high screen for Loyd. KG (Kevin Grayer) pushed it up the floor and he just ran out of time."

Grayer had gathered in the board in the corner and scrambled up the floor, but couldn't get off a shot before time expired.

"We've played better with our backs against the wall and that's the way this team has been," Haggerty said. "These guys found a way to win all year. Maybe if there was another second, we would have won."

Mustangs Ran Out of Time

by Adam Ostrow

Highland Heights, KY --

"Another second in the game, and maybe we win it."

That's how Head Coach Nelson Haggerty described #5 MSU's 64-63 defeat Wednesday in the Elite Eight, the program's third-straight loss in the National Quarterfinals.

To use an old cliche: They didn't lose, they just ran out of time.

With only 4.3 seconds left after a missed free throw by #12 Western Washington, Kevin Grayer grabbed the rebound and drove the length of the floor, but couldn't get a shot off before the buzzer.

"They did a pretty good job on the wings," explained Coach Haggerty. "[Grayer] pushed it up the floor, and I'll tell you, another half a second maybe, he's able to get a great shot up and win the game for us."

Grayer spent several moments face-down on the floor after the horn sounded.

It was a tough end to a solid night for the Mustang junior, who contributed nine points and six rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench.

Another solid all-around night came from senior and Wichita Falls native Keonte' Logan, who added six points, five boards, two steals and a game-high four assists.

He said, perhaps unlike last year, the team had the right mind-set coming in.

"Last year we were kind of excited to be here again," Logan said. "I don't think we approached it the right way.

"This year I felt like we did the right things, and came out and approached the game, and prepared ourselves in the right way.  We fought all game long, but we just came up short."

The biggest star of the night for MSU was David Terrell. The senior went out with a bang, scoring 21 of MSU's first 40 points of the day, while showing off a dazzling variety of low-post moves to get past WWU's taller front line.

The only thing that slowed him down was picking up his 4th foul with about nine minutes to go in the game. He did not score again afterwards.

After his final college game, "D.T." couldn't hide his disappointment.

"We worked real hard in the off-season to get back to this point, to go even further than we did last year, and it didn't happen," Terrell said.

"So I mean, I'm proud of the team, you know, for working this hard and getting here but..."

Once again the Mustangs will return home to reload for next year, knowing they had a season to be proud of, but wondering again what might have been.