Villegas buzzer beater lifts Mustangs to first win of season

A jumper by freshman forward McKenna Villegas found the net as time expired to give Midwestern State its first win of the season with a 57-55 victory over Texas Wesleyan Wednesday evening at D.L. Ligon Coliseum.

After a missed layup by Texas Wesleyan (3-2) junior forward Katelynn Threats, Midwestern State (1-2) was able to hold for the final shot. Following an MSU timeout, junior guard Jacquar Westbrooks located Villegas in the corner on the baseline before her shot swished through the net to propel the Mustangs in a thriller.

"Jacquar was supposed to get it and attack and draw the defense or try to go score and she did just that," said head coach Noel Johnson. "McKenna was wide open because she went out to the short corner and just hit that shot that she hits every day in practice. These kids found a way to win and I'm proud of them." Villegas came off the bench to pace the Mustangs with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor. Sophomore guard Whitney Taylor also reached double figures with 11 points while sophomore guard Krishawn Crockett added nine points and a team-best three steals.

"She's (McKenna Villegas) just a kid that grinds you down on the block," Johnson said. "She's an undersized 5 but she found a way to win today. Her shoulder popped out but she got it popped back in and she was fine. I've glad to have McKenna here because of the fact that she knows how to win and she's physical and can finish with contact."

The Mustangs went in front early with an 11-4 lead near the end of the first quarter after sophomore guard Kristin Rydell drained a three-pointer to give MSU its largest lead of the game.

TWU knotted the contest up at 17-all midway through the second quarter with a jumper from Threats. It was a close battle throughout the period with junior forward Delana Lopez giving the Lady Rams a 29-26 halftime lead after a layup in the final seconds of the first half.

TWU built its largest lead of the night at five early in the third quarter before the Mustangs answered with a quick 5-0 spurt following a three from Crockett and two free throws from Villegas for a 31-all game with 8:14 to play in the third.

The Mustangs were held to just two field goals in the final four-plus minutes of the third period as the Lady Rams built a 44-39 advantage after back-to-back buckets from senior guard Leila Jdily-Ezzad at the end of three.

Midwestern State opened the fourth with another 5-0 run as a triple from Westbrooks and a Villegas layup evened the contest at 44 apiece. The teams went back and forth throughout the period with the 13th and final tie of the game coming at 55-all with 1:50 to play after a Villegas basket.

Midwestern State finished with a 40.4 shooting percentage (23-of-57) while holding the Lady Rams to just 32.8 (19-of-58) percent from the field.

TWU recorded 17 points off 19 MSU turnovers while the Mustangs were only able to tally four points off 15 miscues by the Lady Rams. TWU also held an edge in second-chance points at 14-6.

Threats led all players with 23 points while adding 15 boards for the double-double.

Midwestern State travels away from Ligon Coliseum for the first time this season Saturday when the Mustangs take part in the Marriott Champions Circle Pioneer Premiere, hosted by Texas Woman's in Denton. The Mustangs face Colorado State-Pueblo in a 2 p.m. tip Saturday before taking on Colorado Christian Sunday at 2 p.m.