WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Midwestern State claimed its first Lone Star Conference win Saturday afternoon, beating Texas A&M-Kingsville 72-68 at the Steinke Physical Education Center.
The win not only improved MSU to 4-9 on the season, but also snapped a six-game road skid in league play moving to 1-3 in the Lone Star Conference loop.
"We wanted to end 2017 with a win," MSU coach Nelson Haggerty said. "This is a great job by our guys and getting better at the defensive end. I thought we did a great job tonight of guarding the ball at a high level and playing with a high level of energy."
Senior guard Brandon Neel delivered his second double-double of the season leading the Mustangs with 19 points and 11 rebounds, but it was backcourt mate Trey Kennedy who helped MSU grab the lead late in the opening half.
The Las Vegas native scored six of his 10 first-half point in the final six minutes going 4-for-4 from the charity stripe sandwiched around a layup putting the Mustangs up 34-27 with a pair of freebies 1:36 before half.
Kennedy finished with 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting while going 5-of-6 from the free throw line for his second straight double-figure performance.
Texas A&M-Kingsville rallied to take a brief lead (41-40) on Trey Sumpter's dunk at the 15:18 mark of the second half.
The Mustangs held TAMUK to a 36.5-percent shooting night allowing MSU to push the advantage out to nine points on a pair of Wanaah Bail free throws with 36 seconds to go for a 69-60 lead.
"Our guys came back from Christmas focused," Haggerty said. "We're still in this race and now we're headed for our biggest road trip of the season."
Senior guard Devante Pullum dropped in 14 points and dished out four assists while going a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe, while Bail chipped in 12 points and five rebounds.
Cris Boulware scored 19 points off of the bench to lead Texas A&M-Kingsville, who fell to 9-4 and 2-1.
Micheline Mercelita delivered a monster game with 20 points and 13 rebounds Saturday afternoon at D.L. Ligon Coliseum.
It wasn't enough, however, to overcome Midwestern State an ice-cold shooting afternoon in all three phases -- outside the arc, inside the arc or at the free throw line -- as the Mustangs fell 70-66 to Southern Nazarene.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for MSU which fell to 7-3 on the season.
The Mustangs shot 32.8 percent from the field, connected on just two of their 15 attempts from the 3-point line and struggled mightily at the charity stripes going 22-of-45 for 48.9 percent.
Even with all of that, MSU nearly found a way with a flurry of a finish after falling behind 68-57 with 49 seconds to play.
Mercelita connected on a baseline jumper with 39 seconds to play then MSU converted consecutive SNU turnovers into point on layups by Mercelita and Jasmine Richardson to pull the Mustangs to within 68-63 with 22 seconds to play.
After Madeline Schropfer hit one of two free throws to push the Southern Nazarene lead back to six, senior guard Kristin Rydell banked a 3-ball in from the left wing to pull MSU to within a single possession at 69-66 with 11 seconds to go.
But SNU's Irene Perez hit one-of-two free throws with 11 seconds to go and MSU's Chelcie Kizart misfired on a 3-pointer in the closing seconds allowing the Crimson Storm to come away with their first road win in six tries this season.
Alexus Jones and Adrienne Berry scored 15 points each to pace Southern Nazarene which snapped a five-game slide to improve to 4-5 on the season.