When the shots aren't falling, good teams find ways to win. Midwestern State used a stingy defense to push forward against upset-minded Texas A&M-Commerce Friday in the semifinals of the Lone Star Conference Championship.
The second-seeded Mustangs fought off the Lions for a 65-60 win to advance to Saturday's final against the winner of West Texas A&M-Texas Woman's.
MSU (23-5) shot just 29.2 percent from the floor, but with seven blocks, including six in the first half and 22 forced turnovers, the Mustangs were able to keep the Lions at bay just enough.
In three straight possessions down the stretch, MSU had three steals to make sure the Lions never got closer than three points.
But it wasn't until Dianna Jones hit two free throws with seven second remaining did MSU finally put the game away. Jones led the Mustangs with 18 points, while All-LSC first-teamer Andrea Carter managed to score 14 points and pull down 11 rebounds. But Carter's shot wasn't falling early, as she hit only four of 14 attempts.
The big spark off the bench for MSU was Janae McJunkins, who made four of the team's seven 3-pointers, scoring 14 points.
After upsetting No. 3 seed Cameron on Thursday, A&M-Commerce couldn't extend its season, finishing with an even 14-14 record. Artaejah Gay led way for the Lions with 19 points and eight rebounds, while freshman Princess Davis scored 13 points with six boards and five assists. Gabby Scott added eight points and seven rebounds and five assists.
In the first half, both teams had trouble finding a rhythm offensively but the lead got higher than five for either team until the final minute when MSU's Shatoia Gober hit a jumper to give the Mustangs a 27-20 halftime edge.
In the second frame, MSU pushed the lead to as high as 12 after a Jones 3-point basket with 16:50 to play but behind the strong point-guard play of Davis, the LSC's Freshman of the Year, the Lions kept fighting back.
With 2:21 to play, Gay's layup cut the lead to 58-55 but that's when Carter stepped up, hitting a mid-ranger jumper and then had a steal on the other end. MSU's final five points were all made free throws by Jones to give the Mustangs the win.