MEN’S BASKETBALL: Mustangs rout UW-La Crosse

MARSHALL, Minn. – Southwest Minnesota State came to play defense during an 83-57 non-conference victory against Wisconsin-La Crosse on Thursday at the R/A Facility.

“This game was all about defending and making (Wisconsin-La Crosse) working for everything,” Mustangs head coach Brad Bigler said. “Our goal was to defend the 3-point line, make them put the ball on the floor and force them to score in different ways.”

The Eagles came into Thursday’s game shooting 49 percent from the field and 47 percent from 3-point range.

“Those numbers are very good and (Wisconsin-La Crosse) is a team that is very efficient at the offensive end,” Bigler said. “It was important for us to make it a high-possession game, speed up the tempo and to try to take them out of their comfort zone.”

SMSU (6-5 overall) pushed its lead to 75-50 with 4:39 left in the contest after limiting UW-L to just two points for more than nine minutes in the second half. The Mustang defense limited the Eagles to just 30 percent shooting in the second half.

“Our attention to detail on defense was where it needed to be and its something we want to continue to develop so that we can be the best team we can be,” Bigler said. “We were able to guard the ball with more energy. That was the key for us.”

SMSU led 51-36 in the 2 minutes of the second half before UW-L put together an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 51-44 at the 14:47 mark. The Mustangs maintained a 55-48 lead with 13:35 remaining before holding the Eagles scoreless for more than four minutes to build a 61-48 lead.

The Mustangs shot a season-high 62.3 percent and recorded a season-high 19 assists.

SMSU was led by Nick Smith, who poured in a game-high 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting and recorded his second 20-point scoring game of the season.

“I thought our guys were patient in the halfcourt and Nick Smith received a lot of open space, where he was able to attack their defenders one-on-one,” Bigler said. “They chose not to double-team him. So, it was an opportunity for Nick to have a big night.”

Shaun Condon and William Giddings each added 12 points for the Mustangs, while Vinard Birch, Matt Zager and Drew Osmundson each had five assists. Travis Meinders, appearing in his first game SMSU, scored nine points on 4 of 5 shooting, while Zager added nine points.

UW-L (7-2), which had a four-game winning streak snapped, was led by Luke Tweed’s 17 points on 8 of 12 shooting.

SMSU finished the game connecting on 33 of 53 shots, including 5 of 12 from 3-point range. SMSU held a 32-25 rebound advantage and forced UW-L into 16 turnovers.

Both teams started the game red-hot from the field in the opening half as the team’s played to a 19-19 tie in the game’s first 7 minutes.

UW-L took its first lead of the game at 24-23 following a 3-pointer by Calahan Skogman with 10:26 remaining, but SMSU rallied with a 9-0 run capped by a Giddings 3-pointer to give the Mustangs a 32-24 advantage with 7:48 left in the half.

SMSU returns to NSIC play on Saturday afternoon hosting Sioux Falls at the R/A Facility starting at 4 p.m. USF defeated SMSU 87-83 in the conference opener on Nov. 30 in Sioux Falls.


WISCONSIN-LA CROSSE (7-2 OVERALL): Luke Tweed 8-12 0-1 17, Clint Rihn 1-1 0-0 3, Braden Tice 4-9 1-1 11, Ryan Kruser 0-1 0-0 0, Cale Zuiker 0-1 0-0 0, Calahan Skogman 4-11 2-4 12, Skylar Cameron 1-3 0-0 2, Joe Sokovich 0-2 0-0 0, Trent Schmidt 0-2 2-3 2, Connor De Bruin 0-01 2-2 2, Lucas Collom 4-10 0-0 8. TOTALS: 22-54 (41%) 7-11 (64%) 57.

SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA STATE (6-5 OVERALL): William Giddings 5-8 0-2 12, Vinard Birch 4-7 0-0 8, Drew Osmundson 1-1 0-0 2, Mitch Weg 2-2 3-4 7, Shaun Condon 3-6 5-7 12, Travis Meinders 4-5 1-1 9, Joey Bartlett 1-6 0-0 3, Matt Zager 4-6 0-0 9, Nick Smith 9-12 3-4 21. TOTALS: 33-53 (62%) 12-18 (67%) 83.

HALFTIME: Southwest Minnesota State 47, Wisconsin-La Crosse 34. 3-POINT FIELD GOALS: Wisconsin-La Crosse 6-23 (Tice 2-7, Skogman 2-5, Tweed 1-4, Rihn 1-1); Southwest Minnesota State 5-12 (Giddings 2-4, Bartlett 1-5, Zager 1-1, Condon 1-2). REBOUNDS: Wisconsin-La Crosse 25 (Skogman 7); Southwest Minnesota State 32 (Weg 8, Smith 5). TOTAL FOULS (FOULED OUT): Wisconsin-La Crosse 16 (None); Southwest Minnesota State 11 (None). TECHNICAL FOULS: None. ASSISTS: Wisconsin-La Crosse 9 (Tweed 2, Rihn 2); Southwest Minnesota State 19 (Birch 5, Zager 5, Osmundson 5). STEALS: Wisconsin-La Crosse 8 (Tweed 3, Skogman 3); Southwest Minnesota State 11 (Giddings 2, Zager 2, Weg 2, Condon 2). BLOCKED SHOTS: Wisconsin-La Crosse 1 (De Bruin 1); Southwest Minnesota State 5 (Weg 2). TURNOVERS: Wisconsin-La Crosse 16; Southwest Minnesota State 11.