WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Despite falling behind by as many as 15 in the first half, Midwestern State remained resilient and rallied for a 72-67 overtime win over UT Permian Basin.
It was certainly a tale of two quarters in the first half. The Mustangs went just 3-for-14 in the opening 10 minutes with seven turnovers, scoring eight points. MSU began to find its footing against the Falcons in the second, going 61.5 percent from the floor and pulling to within five (33-28) at halftime.
The Maroon and Gold slowly but surely chipped away at the lead in the opening minutes of the third quarter, eventually tying it on a Whitney Taylor three with 5:51 to play. Both sides traded body blows back-and-forth with neither team able to stretch the lead to more than six over the final 15 minutes of the second half. The Mustangs had a shot to win it in regulation, but Jasmine Richardson's jumper was too strong at the buzzer, bouncing out.
In overtime, Micheline Mercelita and Liz Cathcart each scored four points and had two rebounds to send the Mustangs past the Falcons. UTPB took the lead on three separate occasions to open the extra period, answered by a pair of Mercelita free throws, followed by free throws and a layup by Cathcart to tie the game at 67 with 1:57 to go.
With 27 seconds to play, Micah Schneider found Mercelita on the block and the senior laid it in to put MSU on top for the first time in OT. On the ensuing defensive possession, UTPB's Khali Pippins-Tryon drove the lane but lost her footing, giving the ball back to the Mustangs. Schneider drained both free throws with 17 seconds remaining to put MSU up four and essentially put the game on ice.
Mercelita tallied her sixth double-double of the season, finishing with a team-high 17 points and 10 rebounds. In her first action since Dec. 7, Cathcart poured in a season-high 14 points with seven rebounds on 62.5 percent shooting. Senior guards Kristin Rydell and Jasmine Richardson added six and five assists, respectively. Taylor hit three, three-pointers and is now four away from breaking the all-time school record.
UTPB was led by Sierra LaGrande with 23 points and Pippins-Tryon added 20 for the Falcons.
Midwestern State improved to 12-9 overall and 9-6 in Lone Star Conference play after a 72-67 overtime win over UT Permian Basin. The Mustangs improve to 9-3 at D.L. Ligon Coliseum on the 2017-18 season.
Midwestern State is back in action on Saturday, Feb. 10 against West Texas A&M at D.L. Ligon Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.
Midwestern State was unable to close out its upset bid of 13th-ranked UT Permian Basin on Thursday at D.L. Ligon Coliseum, falling to the Falcons, 79-76.
Up 71-70 with 1:13 to play, senior guard Trey Kennedy found sophomore guard Logan Hicks in the corner and Hicks rattled home on a three to extend the lead to four. UTPB's Josh Morris answered with a layup, but senior guard Devante Pullum knocked down both free throws after a quick Falcons foul to again give the Mustangs a four-point edge with 43 seconds left.
Reigning Lone Star Conference Player of the Year Daeshon Francis cut it back to two on a layup with 37 seconds. On the ensuing inbounds play, MSU was unable to corral the ball, resulting in a turnover. Neel was called for a blocking foul with 23 seconds and Francis converted the free throw on the three-point play to give the Falcons the lead for good.
Neel missed a floater with 12 seconds to play that would have given the Mustangs the lead. UTPB hit both free throws to move it to a three-point game and Pullum's three pointer didn't fall with three seconds left.
Neel finished with 24 points, six rebounds and two assists, going 8-for-9 from the free throw line. Kennedy added 19 on four three pointers while Hicks tacked on 11. The trio finished with 54 of MSU's 76 points.
Morris finished with a game-high 27 points and Francis added 24 for the Falcons who closed the game on a 7-0 run.
Midwestern State falls to 0-4 against ranked opponents this season and has lost seven-straight against teams in the top 25.
The Mustangs are back in action on Saturday, Feb. 10 against West Texas A&M at D.L. Ligon Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m.