WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Senior Kristin Rydell splashed in 16 points to pace Midwestern State to its fourth straight win 72-66 over Texas A&M-Kingsville Tuesday night at the Steinke Physical Education Center.
The Mustangs remain atop the Lone Star Conference with a 4-0 record as Noel Johnson became the program's all-time coaching wins leader with her 133rd victory.
"To have that is a credit to the staff both current and past. It means a lot but it means so much to the players," Johnson said. "I am proud to be at MSU and proud to have this honor."
In her 10th season at the helm, Johnson has led the program to three consecutive NCAA Division II regional appearances (2013-15) including a Lone Star Conference championship in 2015.
At 7-2, the Mustangs are off to their best start since the 2014-15 team rolled out to a 13-1 record on the way to an overall 23-7 mark.
Midwestern was red hot from the field in the first half connecting on 8-of-14 shots including all three of its 3-pointers to lead by as many 15 points in the opening half.
The Mustangs went ice cold in the second half shooting 28.6 percent from the floor (6-for-21) allowing the Javelinas to claw back into the game.
"Texas A&M-Kingsville is better than their record," Johnson said. "That showed with the way they were able to dig in and play defense."
The Javelinas hit six consecutive free throws down the stretch to pull within three points a 67-64 with 1:53 to go, but that's as close as it would get.
Despite being held without a field goal over the final 5 1/2 minutes, MSU hit five free throws down the stretch and held Texas A&M-Kingsville without a field goal over the final 3:53.
Senior forward Micheline Mercelita completed a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while senior guard Whitney Taylor overcame a 1-for-9 shooting night to finish with 12 points by going 9-of-10 at the free throw line.
Senior forward Angelica Wilson and sophomore guard Victoria Salinas scored 14 points each lead Texas A&M-Kingsville, which fell to 3-8 and 0-4.
Southern Indiana's Nate Hansen scored 16 of his game-high 23 points in the second half to spur the Screaming Eagles to a 78-70 win over Midwestern State in the finale of the Rollis Las Vegas Classic Tuesday afternoon at the Doolittle Community Center.
The loss sends MSU into the Christmas break with a 3-9 mark, while USI improved to 9-3.
The Mustangs used a strong defensive effort in the first half to bolt out to a 8-point lead after sophomore guard Logan Hicks finished off of a 10-0 run with floater in the paint and a 3-pointer from the right wing for a 14-6 MSU lead.
After DayJar Dickson ended a near 6-minute Southern Indiana scoring drought, with another 7-0 run punctuated by a two-handed dunk by Josh Huntley to give the Mustangs a 21-8 lead with 7:45 to go in the first half.
Midwestern maintained its 10-point edge into halftime, but the Screaming Eagles peeled off an 11-4 run to start the second half to pull within 41-38 following a pair of Hansen free throws with 17:12 to play.
MSU fought back with back-to-back jams including a follow dunk by Brandon Neel and an open court flush by Huntley as MSU re-established a seven-point edge at 45-38 with 16:38 to play.
Southern Indiana kept coming as Hansen fired in a 3-ball from the corner to tie the game at 45-45 with 14:08 to go. Devante Pullum buried a triple from the top of the key to give MSU the lead once again but it was shortlived.
The Screaming Eagles delivered a 12-0 run after consecutive 3-pointers by Mateo Rivera and Hansen staked USI to a 71-62 lead with 3:09 to go.