MARSHALL – Nick Smith scored a game-high 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the season to lead Southwest Minnesota State to a thrilling 73-71 victory over No. 16-ranked Winona State at the R/A Facility on Friday night.

The victory was just the first for the Mustangs over the Warriors in the regular season since 2002-03 and just the third overall since 2003. The victory was also SMSU’s first over a nationally-ranked team since Feb. 11, 2012, at St. Cloud State. The loss snapped WSU’s 11-game winning streak.

Vinard Birch added 16 points and six assists for the Mustangs and in the process became the program’s all-time leader in assists passing Andrew Peschong’s total of 342 from 2006-10. Birch has now recorded 345 in his career.

Shaun Condon also had a solid night for SMSU scoring 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting with two 3-pointers.

The Mustangs finished the night shooting 46 percent (28 of 61) from the field, including 6 of 13 from 3-point range. Winona State closed the night shooting 50 percent (28 of 56) from the field. SMSU held a 36-35 rebound advantage and committed just nine turnovers. The Mustnags held a 28-3 advantage in bench scoring.

Tayler Cameron led the Warriors with 17 points and seven rebounds.

Winona State started the game strong with Kellen Taylor and Cameron combining to score 16 of WSU’s first 20 points on 6 of 7 shooting (3 of 3 FTs) in the first nine minutes as the Warriors built a 20-9 lead.

Winona State maintained a 26-17 lead with seven minutes and 22 seconds before SMSU answered with an 11-3 run to make the score 29-28 following a field goal by Shaun Condon.

The Mustangs continued to rally before eventually taking it first lead of the game with nine seconds left in the half on a pair of free throws by Nick Smith to make the score 36-35.

The Warriors’s Cameron answered with a layup just before the halftime buzzer to give WSU a 37-36 halftime advantage.

Birch scored six of SMSU’s last eight points to close the half and finished the opening 20 minutes with eight points on 4 of 5 shooting. Smith added eight first half points with seven rebounds.

SMSU shot 48 percent (15 of 31) in the opening half and held a 20-12 rebound advantage. Winona State shot 54 percent (15 of 28) in the first half with Cameron leading the way with 11 points.

The Warriors used an 8-0 run to open the second half and widen its lead to 45-36 with 16:48 remaining in the game.

The Mustangs slowly climbed back into the game before Condon connected on a 3-pointer with 13:20 remaining to put SMSU up 49-48 to cap a 13-3 run.

Winona State regained the lead a minute later and built a 57-53 lead before the Mustangs put together a 9-2 run to take a 62-59 lead with 6:43 to go following a three-point play by William Giddings.

SMSU held a 66-60 lead its largest lead of the game with 4:38 remaining after a jumper by Condon and still maintained a 72-67 advantage with 2:46 left before WSU made one final charge.

The Warriors countered with a 3-pointer at the 2:20 mark and a free throw trimmed SMSU’s lead to 72-71 with 46 seconds left, before Birch made one of two free throws with 16 seconds remaining to make the score 73-71.

On WSU’s next possession, the Mustangs nearly stole the ball, forcing the Warriors to toss up desperation 3-pointer as time expired, but following the final horn the officials put three seconds back on the clock as Winona State was given a timeout.

Following two timeouts by WSU and one by SMSU, Cameron missed a 3-pointer as time expired to give SMSU the victory.

Southwest Minnesota State continues its home weekend with a match-up versus Upper Iowa at 7 p.m todau. SMSU defeated the Peacocks 83-73 in Fayette, Iowa, on Dec. 13.


WINONA STATE (15-3 OVERALL, 10-1 NSIC): Kellen Taylor 5-8 4-6 15, Josh Mongan 0-3 0-0 0, Conrad Masberg 3-6 3-4 9, Riley Bambenek 6-10 0-0 14, Skyler O’Laughlin 6-8 1-4 13, Kyle Bauman 1-3 1-1 3, Nick Arenz 0-2 0-0 0, Taylor Cameron 7-16 2-3 17. TOTALS: 28-56 (50%) 11-18 (61%) 71.

SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA STATE (11-6 OVERALL, 8-3 NSIC): William Giddings 3-7 1-1 8, Vinard Birch 6-11 3-6, Drew Osmundson 1-2 0-0 2, Mitch Weg 3-5 2-2 8, Shaun Condon 6-9 0-2 14, Travis Meinders 1-1 1-2 4, Joey Bartlett 0-3 0-0 0, Matt Zager 1-7 0-0 3, Nick Smith 7-16 4-5 18. TOTALS: 28-61 (46%) 11-18 (61%) 73.

HALFTIME: Southwest Minnesota State 36, Winona State 36. 3-POINT FIELD GOALS: Winona State 4-14 (Taylor 1-2, Bambenek 2-3 Cameron 1-6); Southwest Minnesota State 6-13 (Giddings 1-2, Birch 1-1, Zager 1-3, Condon 2-4, Meinders 1-1). REBOUNDS: Winona State 35 (O’Laughlin 7, Cameron 7); Southwest Minnesota State 36 (Smith 11, Weg 8). TOTAL FOULS (FOULED OUT): Winona State 16 (none); Southwest Minnesota State 15 (none). TECHNICAL FOULS: None. ASSISTS: Winona State 12 (Cameron 6, Bambenek 5); Southwest Minnesota State 15 (Birch 6, Smith 4). STEALS: Winona State 6 (Masberg 3); Southwest Minnesota State 7 (Birch 2, Condon 2). BLOCKED SHOTS: Winona State 7 (Bauman 3, O’Laughlin 2); Southwest Minnesota State 3 (Bartlett 1, Smith 1, Weg 1). TURNOVERS: Winona State 13; Southwest Minnesota State 9.