MEN’S BASKETBALL: Mustangs knock off Cougars in NSIC

MARSHALL – Southwest Minnesota State shot 53 percent and limited Sioux Falls to a season-low scoring and shooting percentage to earn a 63-51 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference victory on Saturday at the R/A Facility.

The Mustangs (7-5, 4-2 NSIC) were led by Shaun Condon’s 14 points on 5 of 10 shooting with a pair of 3-pointers. SMSU, which never trailed in the game, shot 58 percent in the second half to build a 20-point lead. The Cougars rallied to cut their deficit to seven points, but it wasn’t enough as SMSU improved to 11-0 all-time at home versus USF.

“I thought, in the first half, we were able to execute well by getting into to a rhythm at the offensive end,” Southwest Minnesota State head coach Brad Bigler said. “More importantly, we defended very well. We were guarding the 3-point line like we should and our guys were making Sioux Falls work for everything.”

Joey Bartlett and Matt Zager each added 10 points in the Mustangs balanced scoring attack, while Nick Smith and William Giddings each chipped in eight points. Mitch Weg grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, while Vinard Birch had a game-high six assists and is now just two away of tying Jordan Miller for second all-time on SMSU’s assist list with 321.

Sioux Falls (5-5, 2-4 NSIC) dropped its fourth straight game and shot just 34 percent (16 of 47) from the field. The Cougars entered the game averaging 85 points, while shooting 46 percent from the field. Cutler Finneman led USF with nine points on 4 of 7 shooting.

SMSU jumped out to a quick start to begin the game by scoring the first eight points, highlighted by 3-pointers from Bartlett and Zager.

The Mustangs continued to pour it on during the first 10 minutes, pushing their lead to 25-6 with 9 minutes, 43 seconds left, following back-to-back 3-pointers by Giddings and Condon.

Sioux Falls countered with a 9-0 run over the next two minutes to trim its deficit to 25-15, before Condon ended that uprising with a three-point play to make the score 28-15. Drew Osmundson gave SMSU a 32-16 advantage with a layup as 4:37 remained before the Cougars hit a pair of 3-pointers to close the half and cut the Mustangs lead to 34-22 at halftime.

SMSU shot 50 percent (13 of 26) from the field in the opening half with five 3-pointers on nine attempts, while USF shot just 29 percent (6 of 21) in the half. The Mustangs held an 18-11 rebound margin and outscored USF 16-4 on points in the paint.

SMSU held a 34-24 lead early in the second half before reeling off a 12-2 run capped by a 3-pointer by Bartlett and a three-point play by Condon to build its largest lead of the game at 46-26 at the 13:51 mark.

The Cougars stepped up their defense and limited the Mustangs to just four points over the next three and one-half minutes to cut the USF deficit to 50-41 with 8:34 remaining. SMSU extended its lead to 53-41 with 7:58 left on a Zager layup, before Sioux Falls answered with five quick points to make the score 53-46 with six minutes remaining.

“It was a nervous time there for a while,” Bigler said. “In the end, we regained our composure, made a few plays down the stretch and made some free throws, as well.”

A Mitch Weg free throw ended the Cougars’ run and, following a layup from Osumundson, the Mustangs’ lead was extended back to double digits with five minutes left. Sioux Falls wouldn’t go away and cut its deficit to 59-51 with 2:00 left, but a layup by Condon, a missed 3-pointer by USF and a layup by Giddings sealed the victory for the Mustangs.

“I thought we were able to defend similarly to the way we guarded La Crosse because we were able to defend them on screening actions. But, overall, this was a grind-out type of win,” Bigler said.


SIOUX FALLS (5-5 OVERALL, 2-4 NSIC): Mack Johnson 1-4 1-2 4, Kebu Johnson 1-1 0-0 2, Alex Robey 0-0 0-0 0, Derek Brown 2-7 2-2 7, Robert Goffney 0-3 4-4 4, Charles Ward 1-5 0-2 3, Mahlon Jones 1-5 4-4 6, Jordan Stotts 3-8 3-3 9, Cutler Finneman 4-7 0-0 9, Bryan Kielpinski 3-7 1-2 7. TOTALS: 16-47 (34%) 15-19 (79%) 51.

SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA STATE (7-5 OVERALL, 4-2 NSIC): William Giddings 3-4 1-2 8, Vinard Birch 1-5 1-2 3, Drew Osmundson 2-4 0-0 4, Mitch Weg 1-2 4-6 6, Shaun Condon 5-10 2-2 14, Travis Meinders 0-1 0-0 0, Joey Bartlett 4-7 0-0 10, Matt Zager 4-5 0-2 10, Nick Smith 4-7 0-2 8. TOTALS: 24-45 (53%) 8-16 (50%) 63.

HALFTIME: Southwest Minnesots State 34, Sioux Falls 22. 3-POINT FIELD GOALS: Sioux Falls 4-18 (Finneman 1-3, Ward 1-3, Brown 1-4, M. Johnson 1-4, Stotts 0-1, Jones 0-1, Goffney 0-2); Southwest Minnesota State 7-13 (Zager 2-2, Bartlett 2-4, Condon 2-4, Giddings 1-1, Osmundson 0-2). REBOUNDS: Sioux Falls 28 (Stotts 7, Finneman 5, TEAM 5); Southwest Minnesota State 32 (Weg 7, TEAM 6, Bartlett 5). TOTAL FOULS (FOULED OUT): Sioux Falls 15 (none); Southwest Minnesota State 19 (Smith). TECHNICAL FOULS: None. ASSISTS: Sioux Falls 7 (Brown 2, Goffney 2, Jones 2); Southwest Minnesota State 13 (Birch 6, Zager 4). STEALS: Sioux Falls 5 (Brown 1, Stotts 1, Kielpinski 1, Jones 1, Finneman 1); Southwest Minnesota State 8 (Zager 4, Birch 1, Barlett 1, Weg 1, Meinders 1). BLOCKED SHOTS: Sioux Falls 3 (Kielpinski 1, Jones 1, Finneman 1); Southwest Minnesota State 4 (Smith 2, Birch 1, Bartlett 1). TURNOVERS: Sioux Falls 13; Southwest Minnesota State 15.