Senior guard Monzaigo Williams dropped in a game-high 19 points to lead Midwestern State to an 85-79 win over Mid-America Christian in exhibition play Wednesday night at D.L. Ligon Coliseum.
The Mustangs take on Langston in their second and final tune-up Monday night at Ligon Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
The Evangels behind a strong effort from Semar Farris (15 points) and Angelo Lewis (14 points) gave MSU it could handle trimming a once 14-point deficit to 81-79 when Lewis connected on a pair of free throws with 1:30 to play.
But Williams responded by hitting a tough runner in the lane on the Mustangs' next possession as he was bumped by Farris with 42 seconds to play. The Palmdale, Calif. native knocked down a free throw to make it a tradition three-point play but it was waved off as DeJuan Plummer was whistled for a lane infraction for entering the arc before the ball hit the rim.
After an MSU stop, Williams salted the game away with two makes from charity stripe with 13 seconds to play.
Mid-America Christian made it interesting in the opening half using a 10-0 run to roll out to its largest lead of the game at 13-7 on Stephen Armstrong free throw just over 7 minutes into the contest.
The teams would exchange the lead six times before intermission, but Cam Adderley 3-pointer from the right wing gave the Mustangs' a 39-33 lead at the break.
The Mustangs carried the momentum into the second half riding a 17-5 run to a 51-37 advantage when Williams hit a layup in transition for the biggest lead of the night.
In a physical game, the teams combined for 63 fouls and 67 free throws as five technical fouls were issued.
Senior forward Eddie D'Haiti added 11 points and eight rebounds for the Mustangs, while Derek Kaster added nine points and seven rebounds to go along with three blocked shots and a steal in 21 minutes of play.
Plummer came alive in the second half to tally each of his 10 points off of the bench.
Midwestern State opens the regular season against Southwestern Oklahoma State on Nov. 8 in the SWOSU Classic. Tipoff at the Pioneer Cellular Event Center in Weatherford, Okla. is set for 7:30 p.m.
Midwestern State received the majority of the first place votes in the annual Lone Star Conference Preseason Poll voted by coaches, sports information directors and selected media as released Wednesday afternoon by league officials.
But for the third straight year, Tarleton State goes into the season as favorite to claim the LSC title.
The Mustangs have claimed at least a share of five of the last seven conference titles while advancing further than any other LSC program in NCAA Division II postseason play in each of the last five years including three straight Elite Eight runs in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Midwestern State's nationally acclaimed program boasts the highest winning percentage (.805) and has won more games than any other four-year basketball playing school in the State of Texas over the last five years with a sterling 132-32 mark.
The Mustangs carry the highest preseason ranking of any league school into the 2013-14 campaign recognized at No. 8 by The Sporting News D2 Preview and were 12th in the Division II Bulletin Top 25.
The Texans carried first-place votes in nine of the 23 ballots for a total of 166 points followed by MSU's 12-first place votes for 163 total points, Cameron (2 first-place votes, 124), West Texas A&M (118), Texas A&M-Kingsville (82), Eastern New Mexico (63), Angelo State (59) and Texas A&M-Commerce (53).
Cameron senior guard Craig Foster, the D2 Bulletin Preseason National Player of the Year, was the named the league's top player after averaging 16.6 points and 5.7 assists per game last season.
Foster was the top choice on 12 of the 23 ballots casts, while Tarleton State senior guard Chuck Guy received nine of the other 11 votes. The votes on the remaining two ballots were not disclosed.
The Mustangs, who claimed their seventh Lone Star Conference championship last season after rolling to a 22-9 record, return four starters buoyed by the injection of guard JaMichael Rivers, who averaged 10.5 points and 3.2 rebounds for MSU's 2012 Elite Eight squad. The senior, who sat out last season, garnered Preseason All-America mention from The Sporting News.
Another member of the Mustangs' Elite Eight run of 2012 returns in senior guard DeJuan Plummer, who averaged 5.5 points in 33 games two seasons ago, while Derek Kaster (6.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and redshirt freshman Patrick Smith also return from last season's roster which produced a 22-9 mark, a Lone Star Conference title and a trip to the NCAA Division II South Central Region semifinals.
A strong group of transfers buoys the roster including Kevin Wagner (McLennan CC/Texas Tech), Tavarion Nix (Redlands CC), Xavier Blackburn (North Dakota State), Abiodun Adegoke (Western Texas) and DeVaughn Jones (Lackawanna).
A quartet of freshmen fills out the strong recruiting class consisting of Devante Pullum (Little Elm HS), Michael Ashiofu (Elsik HS), Nick Powell (Henrietta HS) and Cory Bennett (Iowa Park HS).
Midwestern State opens the season at the SWOSU Classic in Weatherford, Okla. on Nov. 8-9 battling former conference foes Southwestern Oklahoma State and East Central (Okla.).
The Mustangs are under the dome for a pair of exhibition tilts against Mid-America Christian (Okla.) on Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. and versus Langston (Okla.) on Nov. 4 at 7 p.m.
2013-14 Lone Star Conference Preseason Poll
Preseason Player of the Year
Craig Foster, Cameron
The 10th ranked Midwestern State Mustangs are the prohibitive favorite to win back-to-back Lone Star Conference Championships according to the Lone Star Conference Preseason Basketball Poll released on Wednesday.
The Mustangs, who return all five starters and lost only one player with significant playing time from last season's 26-6 NCAA II South Central Regional finalist team, collected 20 of the possible 24 first place votes and scored 218 points in the balloting by the league's head coaches, media members and sports information directors.
West Texas A&M was second in the poll with 190 points and one first place vote, just ahead of Tarleton State who was third with 188 points and three first place ballots.
Angelo State is favored fourth with 127 points, one more than Texas A&M-Commerce who was fifth with 126 points. Texas Woman's was selected sixth with 84 tallies, followed by Cameron (75 points), Eastern New Mexico (69 points) and Texas A&M-Kingsville (48 points).
Tarleton State senior Kiara Wright, the 2013 South Central Regional and Lone Star Conference Player of the Year, was named the 2014 Preseason Player of the Year. Wright was named on 18 of the ballots, while MSU junior Andrea Carter collected four votes. Two others collected the remaining four ballots.
Carter, an honorable mention Daktronics, Inc. Division II All-American last season, joined Wright on the Daktronics All-South Central Region team. Both were also first-team All-LSC selections and LSC Defensive Players of the Year in 2013.
Carter, a 5-10 junior from Angleton, averaged 13.4 points a game, while grabbing 10.6 rebounds a contest to rank 16th in Division II. She was seventh in DII in double-doubles with 18.
Also returning for Midwestern are All-Lone Star Conference performer Kirsti Degelia and LSC Tournament MVP Dianna Jones.
Degelia, a 5-8 senior guard from Denton/Krum, led the team and ranked third in the LSC with 16.4 points a game and ranked fifth in the league with 3.3 assists per contest.
Jones, a 5-9 junior guard from Hewitt/Midway, averaged 9.8 points a game and was third in the LSC with 3.4 assists per contest. She was 26th in Division II in free throw percentage, hitting 85.6 percent by going 89-of-104 from the line.
The 10th ranked Mustangs open the season on Thursday with their only exhibition game of the season when they meet the Texas Longhorns in Austin at the Frank Erwin Center.
Their first official contest is Friday, Nov. 8 against Colorado State-Pueblo in the Adams State Conference Challenge in Alamosa, Colo.
2013-14 Lone Star Conference Preseason Poll
Preseason Player of the Year
Kiara Wright, Tarleton State