ALLEN, TX (KAUZ) - A 20-0 first half run for No. 23 UT Permian Basin lifted the Falcons to an 81-70 victory over Midwestern State in the Lone Star Conference quarterfinals Thursday evening at the Allen Event Center.
With the loss, Midwestern State ends the season at 14-14 while top-seeded UT Permian Basin improves to 24-5 and will face the winner between No. 4 Texas A&M-Commerce and No. 5 Cameron in the LSC semifinals Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
The Falcons erased a 15-7 deficit and grabbed their first lead of the game during their spurt to take a 27-15 advantage with 8:26 remaining in the first half. Pat Smith's jumper just before the shot clock expired snapped the Midwestern State drought at the 7:54 mark with Smith also recording the last basket for the Mustangs at 14:50 that gave MSU a 15-7 advantage during a 7-0 run.
The Falcons extended their lead to 15 following a pair of free throws from Zeldric King at 32-17 with 7:38 left. A Smith steal and Igor Ibaka dunk capped off a 6-0 MSU run that followed with just over four minutes to play to bring the Mustangs within seven at 34-27.
A Nottingham layup in the final seconds pulled the Mustangs within six but a desperation three from well beyond half court by Daeshon Francis gave the Falcons a 45-36 halftime lead.
UTPB began the second half on an 8-0 spurt until a Brandon Neel jumper at the 15:37 mark gave MSU its first points of the period for a 53-38 score. A pair of threes for Ibaka and Neel and a Smith jumper brought the Maroon and Gold within five during an 8-0 run for a 63-58 game with 7:29 left.
The Mustangs trimmed the UTPB lead in half following two Neel free throws and a jumper by Magnus Richards for a 68-64 score with 4:24 remaining. However, the Mustangs were unable to pull any closer in the final four minutes while being held to just one field goal.
Neel scored a career-high 27 points on 10-of-21 shooting with four three-pointers to lead Midwestern State. Ibaka recorded his 15th double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Smith also reached double figures with 10 points in his final game for the Mustangs, before leaving with a leg injury late in the second half.