WICHITA FALLS, TX - Midwestern State University basketball is set to return to D.L. Ligon Coliseum Saturday afternoon and evening, as they play their Lone Star Conference home openers against Eastern New Mexico.
The Mustang men (12-1), ranked #6 in the NABC coaches' poll and #2 in the D2 Media poll, trailed by as many as nine midway through the first half Wednesday night against West Texas A&M, and by five with under seven minutes to play, but rallied for a 74-65 win in Canyon.
Bretson McNeal, who had missed practice with an illness leading up to the game, scored all ten of his points in the second half, continuing a recent trend. In MSU's past three games, he's scored just 12 points on 3-of-8 shooting in the first half, but 30 points on 9-of-16 in the second.
"It's a little bit of letting the game come to me," McNeal said Thursday. "Then in the second half, that's something I've been working on throughout the summer. Just being prepared to step up in the second half and make bigger plays. So far, it's been working."
"I think we've got to do a better job of getting him shots, honestly, in that first half," said Mustangs head coach Nelson Haggerty. "He does garner a lot of attention from the opposite team, but we have a lot of other guys that teams are worried about, as well. We've got to be about execution. And once we do that, I think he'll get better shots."
The Mustang women (1-11) have, oddly, recorded their two highest scoring outputs of the season against the two teams currently ranked #1 and #2 in the nation: West Texas A&M and Lubbock Christian, respectively.
They showed signs of promise Wednesday night against the #1 Lady Buffs, trailing by single digits late before WT pulled away for an 85-68 win.
"It definitely felt a lot better than all the games we've played," said MSU junior forward Jennifer Sissel. "It feels like something starting to click. You know, it's there, and I can definitely see it a lot more."
"I was very proud of the girls and their effort," said head coach Noel Johnson. "They did not give up for 40 minutes. And so, we felt like we took a step forward. We've got to carry that momentum [Thursday], into practice, and into Friday and into Saturday's game."
The Mustangs have been outscored 229-119 in first quarters this season, their worst period.
"We can't have slow first quarters," coach Johnson said. "We have to have that mentality of, 'Everybody's top in the league, and we're there to be the underdog and knock people off.'"
Click on the video players to hear from both teams!