WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Midwestern State made crucial free throws down the stretch to secure an 89-79 win over Western New Mexico on Thursday. The Mustangs went 27-of-32 (84.4 percent) from the free throw line to improve to 5-11 on the season and 2-5 in Lone Star Conference play.
MSU dominated WNMU from the field in the first half to take a 40-29 lead into the locker room at the intermission. The Maroon and Gold held the Mustangs to just 28.0 percent in the opening 20 minutes, but gave up 14 points at the charity stripe in the opening 20 minutes.
Western New Mexico opened the second half on an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to three in the first two minutes, but MSU responded with an 8-1 run of its own over a 31 second span to push the advantage back to double-digits.
Over the next 10 minutes, the Mustangs from New Mexico would rally to close the gap and tie the game at 68 with 8:15 to go and even took the lead for 32 seconds with five minutes to go.
MSU would take the lead for good on a Brandon Neel layup with 3:59 to play and close out the game on a 15-5 run over the final four minutes. The Maroon and Gold went 7-for-9 from the charity stripe over that span to secure the victory.
Neel led all players with 21 points while grabbing eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Logan Hicks added 19 points and seven rebounds. Senior forward Nick Powell tacked on 12 points and five boards while senior guard Devante Pullum had 11 points and senior forward Josh Huntley put up 10 points in 13 minutes of action.
Midwestern State improved to 5-11 on the season and 2-5 in Lone Star Conference action. The Mustangs climbed back to .500 at home, moving to 2-2 at D.L. Ligon Coliseum.
Western New Mexico fell to 3-12 overall and 0-6 in LSC action. Junior guard Jordan Enriquez led the Mustangs with 15 points while Latrell Spivey (14 points), Davis Wade (13 points) and Willie McCray (10 points) all scored in double figures.
Midwestern State is back in action at D.L. Ligon Coliseum on Saturday, Jan. 13 against Eastern New Mexico. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m.
The MSU Mustangs utilized its depth and stymied Western New Mexico for much of the evening. Midwestern State forced a season-high 31 turnovers in a 62-42 victory over the Mustangs of Silver City.
With the win, MSU improves to 8-5 overall on the season and 5-2 in Lone Star Conference play. The win snapped a three-game losing streak.
The first half was a wild affair, featuring 15 lead changes and four ties in a back-and-forth tilt. Midwestern State shot just 27.3 percent from the field, missed both its three-point attempts and went 3-for-9 at the charity stripe. Despite the struggles offensively, MSU took a 21-20 lead into the half, limiting WNMU to 6-of-29 shooting (20.7 percent) and forcing 16 turnovers.
The depth of MSU showed up in the second half as the Mustangs grabbed the lead midway through the third quarter in large part of the relentless defensive effort. Tied at 26 with 3:04 to go in the third, MSU knocked down three-straight three pointers after forcing quick turnovers on the defensive end. Chelcie Kizart, Leanna James and Mica Schneider went back-to-back-to-back to give MSU the lead for good.
After a 15-5 run to bookend the third and fourth quarter, the Mustangs pulled away, steadily increasing the lead over the final 10 minutes.
MSU shot exactly 50 percent in the second half, going 16-of-32 from the field. The Mustangs forced 20 turnovers, resulting in 18 points.
The bench proved to be the deciding factor in the ball game as MSU outscored the Mustangs 34-0.
Senior forward Micheline Mercelita recorded her fourth double-double of the season, going for 14 points and 10 rebounds, both team highs. Kizart poured in a season-high 11 points and grabbed six rebounds while Avery Queen had four rejections in the paint.
Ciara Fields led WNMU with 16 points and 14 rebounds as the Mustangs fall to 0-15 on the season.
Midwestern State is back in action at D.L. Ligon Coliseum on Saturday, Jan. 13 against Eastern New Mexico. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.