Midwestern State starting core erupted for 37 second-half points to lead the Mustangs to a 70-62 win over Texas A&M-Commerce Wednesday night at D.L. Ligon Coliseum.
The win snapped a two-game skid for MSU, which improved 19-5 on the season and to 14-4 in league play. The Mustangs will get a chance to take over sole possession of second place Saturday night when they take on Tarleton State at Wisdom Gym in Stephenville. The TexAnns suffered a 52-50 setback Wednesday night at Cameron.
Things didn't look good for the Mustangs early on.
Texas A&M-Commerce controlled the glass and tempo of the game in the opening as the Lions used an 11-0 run to take a 38-26 advantage when Symone Brown hit a jumper 54 seconds before intermission.
MSU junior guard Kirsti Degelia hit a 3-pointer to close the half to give the Mustangs momentum.
That's just what Midwestern needed as it launched out of the locker room on a 15-2 run of its own and finally regained the lead at 44-42 on a Degelia three-point play with 10:48 to play.
The Lions temporarily regained the advantage on Devin Oliver's trey but MSU reeled off the next five points to take the lead for good.
Sophomore guard Shatoia Gober and Degelia lead a group of four players in double figures for the Mustangs as Andrea Carter completed her 13th double-double of the season with 11 points and 12 boards and Dianna Jones hit two treys to finish with 11 points.
Breanna Harris notched a double-double of her own with 18 points and 11 rebounds to pace Texas A&M-Commerce while Danielle Dixon had 15 points and five boards.
The Lions fell to 8-14 and 6-11.
Simply put, Midwestern State returned the favor Wednesday night at D.L. Ligon Coliseum.
The Mustangs avenged a loss to Texas A&M-Commerce in sound 85-67 fashion which was in direct proportion to its showing in Commerce last month.
Both games featured a net cutting ceremony. It was the Lions celebrating a milestone win last month while the Mustangs clinched an outright Lone Star Conference championship. The title was its fifth in the last seven years and seventh overall.
Just weeks ago, A&M-Commerce senior forward Preston Whittley poured in a season-high 28 points. But Wednesday, the volatile big man managed just four field goal attempts and finished with just as many personal fouls as points with four.
It was MSU senior forward Corbin Thomas who did the big work for the Mustangs this time. Thomas poured in a season high 27 points and pulled down a campaign-best 18 boards to allow the Mustangs a plus-26 margin on the board for a dominating 30-4 edge in second-chance.
Midwestern wouldn't be denied as it pulled down at least a season high with 31 offensive rebounds.
The Mustangs used an 11-1 run to take control of the game midway through the first half ignited by a Chris Buttermore follow jam followed by the first of four 3-pointers by Jeff Grayer.
The Mustangs would lead 27-17 on a pair of Jeff Grayer charity tosses with 9:06 to play in the opening half.
MSU pushed the advantage to 46-32 at the break and led by as many as 26 points in the second half.
Spellman shook off a shooting funk to hit a pair of 3-pointers to join Jeff Grayer with 13 points while Cam Adderley pitched in 12 points and six rebounds.
Kevin Grayer completed an all-around line with eight points, six assists and five rebounds.
Devondrick Walker scored 12 of his team-high 17 points in the second half to pace Texas A&M-Commerce, which saw its three-game winning streak go by the boards while dropping to 14-11 and 7-8.
Midwestern State closes out league play Saturday night against rival Tarleton State at Wisdom Gym in Stephenville. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.
Midwestern State is ranked third in the first South Central Region Rankings of the 2012-13 season as released Wednesday afternoon by the NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Committee.
The Mustangs are a game behind Abilene Christian for first place in the Lone Star Conference as they Texas A&M-Commerce tonight at D.L. Ligon Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.
NCAA Division II tournament selection is set for Sunday, March 10.
Colorado Mesa (20-1) tops the rankings followed by Abilene Christian (18-4) in second, with MSU (18-5) third. Metro State (Colo.) (17-5) is fourth followed by Texas-Permian Basin (15-5). Tarleton State (15-5) is sixth, with St. Mary's (18-6), Colorado State-Pueblo (16-6), Incarnate Word (15-6) and Colorado-Colorado Springs (15-5).
The South Central Region consists of the Lone Star, Rocky Mountain Athletic and Heartland conferences. The winners of the each league's postseason tournament gains an automatic bid into the postseason while five others earn at-large access.
The top eight teams from each of the eight regions advance to the postseason which begins March 15-18 at campus sites of the top-ranked team in each region.
The winners of each regional gain a berth in the Elite Eight which is set for Bill Greehey Arena in San Antonio on March 26-29.