The Midwestern State Mustangs opened Lone Star Conference action by beating Texas A&M-Commerce 61-57 on Saturday night, extending their home winning streak to 13 games.
MSU (12-3, 1-0) started the LSC opener sluggish, shooting just 33.3 percent from the field and turning the ball over 9 times in the first half.
The Mustangs crushed the Lions on the glass in the first half by a total of 29-15. MSU turned those extra boards into points, outscoring TAMUC 9-0 in second-chance points in the half. Midwestern led 34-29 at the break.
"We didn't shoot well in the first half or really throughout the game," said MSU head coach Nelson Haggerty. "We just had to fight our way through it."
MSU senior forward Xavier Blackburn tallied 9 first half points to lead the Mustangs. Derrell Gibbs grabbed a team-high 5 rebounds in the first half.
Second half action saw MSU senior Thad Rideau energize the Mustangs with his gutty play. Rideau nailed a huge triple in tight coverage to give the Mustangs their largest second half lead at 45-40.
With 1:27 remaining in the contest and MSU clinging to a 59-55 lead, Rideau made the defensive play of the night. Lion forward LaDon Carnegie streaked to the basket for a dunk when Rideau emphatically blocked the attempt.
"I was just sticking to our defensive principles," said Thad Rideau. "A big time play had to happen and I made it."
The 6'4" Rideau sparked the Mustangs all night, finishing with 10 points and 3 blocks. MSU also got 15 points from Xavier Blackburn and Tavarion Nix. Bretson McNeal added 10 points including 3-10 from 3 point land.
"We count on his energy every night and we know he can get hot," Nelson Haggerty said of Rideau.
"This was a big win to start conference play, especially against a good team like Commerce," said Haggerty.
The Lions drop to 9-3 overall and 0-1 in Lone Star Conference action.
Midwestern State belted Texas A&M-Commerce with two good runs Saturday night to roll to a 77-55 win at D.L. Ligon Coliseum.
"We didn't play well in some areas especially early in the second half that allowed them to make a run at us," MSU coach Noel Johnson said.
The Mustangs played well enough to extend their current winning streak to 10 games while improving to 11-1 on the season and 2-0 in league play.
The streak matches the fourth longest in program history and is the sixth winning streak of at least 10 games. It's the longest since the Mustangs won 11 consecutive games during the 2012-13 season on the way to the South Central Region finals.
Midwestern closed the last 6:18 of the first half on a 14-4 run to push the lead out to 45-27 at intermission, then extended the lead out to 21 points after Shambreka Jones connected on 3-of-4 free throws to start the second half for a 48-27 lead with 18:26 to go.
But Texas A&M-Commerce scored the next nine points to chip away at the lead and pulled to within seven points when Gabby Scott drilled a 3-pointer to make the score 57-50 with 8:07 to play.
Midwestern outscored the Lions 22-5 the rest of the way to secure the victory.
Senior guard Dianna Jones notched 16 points and dished out five assists, as she scored in double figures for the 11th consecutive game.
Senior forward Andrea Carter rebounded from a 4-point, 1-rebound effort against Texas Woman's to score 13 points and pull down eight rebounds, while senior guard Lisa Hampton buried three 3-pointers to also finish with 13 points.
Hampton moved past Julie Lovett (115 3s from 1993-97) into third place on MSU's all time made 3-pointers list. She now has 116 career triples.
Senior forward Shambreka Jones continued her stellar play by delivering her fourth straight double-figure performance, finishing with 11 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots.
Senior forward Taylor Dowd pitched eight points off of the bench -- all in the first half.
Scott had 10 points to pace Texas A&M-Commerce which fell to 4-5 and 0-1.