A strong finish is exactly what Midwestern State needed in a 79-59 win over McMurry Tuesday night at Kimbrell Arena.
That's exactly what the Mustangs got outscoring the Warhawks 33-17 over the final 10 minutes to claim their third win in the last four games to improve to 4-3 on the season.
"It's all about heart and hustle," MSU coach Noel Johnson said. "We did a great job rebounding tonight. It wore them down and allowed us more offensive chances."
MSU rode the strong play from its starting guards as junior Dianna Jones slashed her way to the basket matching a season-high 21 points on perfect 8-of-8 shooting while battling leg cramps throughout the evening.
Senior Kirsti Degelia just missed a double-double with nine points and eight assists -- with six of the helpers coming after intermission. Junior Shatoia Gober remained active with 12 points and eight rebounds.
The Mustangs struggled with the McMurry attack throughout the first 30 minutes of the contest as the Warhawks clawed to within four points at 46-42 when Nicolette Erkman connected on a pair of free throws with 10 minutes to play.
"We were struggling because we were making very difficult passes in simple situations," Johnson said. "It was a matter of keeping it simple. We were able to reverse the ball and finish at the glass."
The Mustangs found the formula of winning the battle on the glass for the first time this season by a 37-30 margin while committing one turnover over the final 20 minutes of the game.
MSU opened up a double-digit lead with a 10-4 run to push the advantage to 58-48 on a three-point play by senior forward Skyler Warrick with 7:07 to play.
The Mustangs extended the run with nine consecutive points and posted their first 20-point advantage on a Dianna Jones drive to lead 71-51 with 2:11 to play.
Junior forward Andrea Carter played a central role in the second-half explosion with 14 points, six rebounds and six steals in 31 minutes, while sophomore Katie Brown added seven points in five minutes off of the bench.
Midwestern State takes on Ouachita Baptist Sunday afternoon at Vining Arena in Arkadelphia, Ark. Tip off is set for 2 p.m.
McMurry dropped to 1-6 on the season.
Midwestern State is receiving votes in the latest USA Today Sports Division II women's basketball poll released Tuesday afternoon.
The Mustangs dropped to 3-3 after suffering a 77-55 setback to current No. 3-ranked Emporia State on the road Saturday.
MSU has received votes in the first three polls this season as the Mustangs were ranked 10th in the preseason poll before receiving 131 votes last week.
Midwestern is one of seven teams from the South Central Region to receive mention in the poll joining No. 7 Colorado Mesa, No. 21 West Texas A&M and No. 24 Tarleton State (Texas) while St. Edward's (Texas), Metropolitan State (Colo) and St. Mary's (Texas) are also receiving votes.
The Mustangs take on McMurry Tuesday night in Abilene before facing Ouachita Baptist Sunday afternoon in Arkadelphia, Ark.
Midwestern State remained 6th in the latest National Association of Basketball Coaches' Poll released Tuesday afternoon.
The Mustangs improved to 5-0 with a 72-61 win over Oklahoma City Monday night at D.L. Ligon Coliseum. MSU off to its best start since peeling off 13 consecutive wins at the start of the 2011-12 season.
The rankings is also the highest December ranking since the 1998-99 team reached No. 5 in the Dec. 21 poll after rolling to a 10-0 start.
The Mustangs are one of seven teams from the South Central Region to receive mention in the poll joining No. 1 Metropolitan State (Colo.), No. 17 Tarleton State (Texas), No. 18 Fort Lewis (Colo.) and No. 24 Colorado Mines while Texas A&M-Commerce and Angelo State are receiving votes.
Midwestern returns to action this weekend at the Arkansas Tech Thanksgiving Classic in Russellville. The Mustangs take on Harding (Ark.) Friday before battling the host Wonder Boys on Saturday. Both games tip at 4 p.m.
Midwestern State's Nick Petolick and Chase Robertson garnered Daktronics All-South Central Region Honors Tuesday morning as released by the Collegiate Sports Information Directors of America.
Petolick, a sophomore from Frisco's Wakeland High, fueled a 13-match unbeaten streak after taking over in the fifth match of the season.
The transfer from Oral Roberts posted nine clean sheets in 13 starts leading all of NCAA Division II with a 0.36 goals against average allowing just five goals while making 58 saves for a national best .921 save percentage.
Petolick notched shutouts in his first five starts, and then put together a string of four more including a 4-save blanking of Colorado Mines in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Robertson made the move to outside back early in the season and proved to a versatile force.
The junior from Midlothian got forward to score two goals while leading the team with six assists while aiding a back line which ranked 14th in NCAA Division II with a 0.74 team goals against average.
Robertson posted either a goal or assist in eight of the 15 matches he appeared in this season including a run of four consecutive ledgers from Sep. 13-27.
Each of the first-team selections advances to the All-America ballot.
The D2SIDA All-America teams in football, men's soccer, women's soccer, women's volleyball, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball and softball are sponsored by Daktronics, Inc., an acknowledged world leader in scoring, timing and programmable display systems for virtually every sport at every level of competition. The teams are voted on by the members of D2SIDA, NCAA Division II Sports Information Directors Association.