MEN’S BASKETBALL: SMSU has last laugh on U-Mary

MARSHALL – In a game that can often be intense, Southwest Minnesota State coach Brad Bigler gave his team some valuable advice before they took the court against U-Mary in the Sanford Health Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament first-round game Wednesday night.

He told the Mustangs to shoot with their eyes open and to not dribble the ball off their foot.

“They seemed a little tense before the game,” Bigler said. “So, I told them a joke to try to loosen them up and get them relaxed.”

Like most things Bigler tries to help his team win, this one worked as the Mustangs shot 54 percent from the field en route to a 82-65 victory.

Vinard Birch finished with a team-high 18 points to go with 17 from Joey Bartlett, 12 from Nick Smith and 11 from Will Giddings. Smith also finished with a game-high nine rebounds.

The Mustangs hot shooting wasn’t limited to just perimeter jumpers, they made seven of their 15 3-point attempts (47 percent).

Marauders coach Jevin Budde knew that they did a lot of things against that team to make that success happen.

“They did a great job of making the extra pass and finding the open guy,” Budde said. “They moved the ball and the open shots they had, they earned with their offense. We didn’t have an answer for them.”

U-Mary had beaten SMSU when the two team’s met in Bismarck just a couple weeks ago.

Budde saw a different Mustangs team than what he saw on the floor the first time they played.

“We didn’t contain dribble penetration as much and didn’t contain as much,” Budde said. “They were able to break us down. We were able to win the one-on-one battles last time. Today, we had to help way too much and with the shooters they have, it really hurt us.”

The Mustangs will take on Wayne State, the No. 7 seed in the South Division, who pulled an upset over Bemidji State 88-76 on Tuesday night, on Sunday in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The Mustangs broke the game open midway through the first half when they were up 15-13 before going on a 15-6 run over the next five minutes to help create a 38-25 halftime lead.

U-Mary made another push at the start of the second half, cutting the Mustangs lead to 42-35 at the 17:33 mark, before a timeout by Bigler halted the momentum and allowed the Mustangs to pull away the rest of the half.

Chris Mason and Marc Musungayi were the only Marauders to score in double figures, putting in 22 and 20 respectively while the rest of the team put in 23 points combined. Isaac Lundquist finished with nine points.

The win was the final game at R/A facility for Birch, Giddings, Smith and Matt Zager, who left the court to a standing ovation.

For Giddings, it was a way of paying back the place that has meant so much to them over the years.

“It’s the least we can do for the town of Marshall and what it’s done for us,” Giddings said. “We’re proud that we can leave people with a smile on their face, but we’re not done yet.”


First Round


At R/A Facility


SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA STATE (18-11 OVERALL): William Giddings 3-6 3-4 11, Vinard Birch 8-14 2-3 18, Mitch Weg 3-5 2-3 8, Shaun Condon 2-4 2-3 8, Travis Meinders 0-1 0-0 0, Joey Bartlett 7-11 0-0 17, Matt Zager 3-8 2-2 8, Cole Martin 0-0 0-0 0, Nick Smith 6-10 0-0 12. TOTALS: 32-59 (54%%) 11-15 (73%) 82.

UNIVERSITY OF MARY (7-21 OVERALL): Damonta Henry 3-12 0-0 7, Germain Decoste 2-4 0-0 5, Jalen Jaspers 1-6, 0-0 2, Marc Musungayi 10-12 0-0 20, Chris Mason 6-12, 7-8 22, Bryan Jefferson 0-3 0-0 0, Luke Scott 0-1 0-0 0, Brandon Tyler 0-2 0-0 0, Isaac Lindquist 3-6 3-3 9. Totals: 25-58 (43%); 11-14 (79%) 65.

HALFTIME: Marshall 38,U-Mary 25. 3-POINT FIELD GOALS: U-Mary 4-16 (Mason 3-6, Henry 1-8); Southwest Minnesota State 7-15 (Bartlett 3-6, Condon 2-3, Giddings 2-4). REBOUNDS: U-Mary 32 (Henry 6, Decoste 6, Musungayi 6); Southwest Minnesota State 33 (Smith 9). TOTAL FOULS (FOULED OUT): U-Mary 15 (None); Southwest Minnesota State 12 (None). TECHNICAL FOULS: None. ASSISTS: U-Mary 12 (Henry 3); Southwest Minnesota State 12 (Zager 4). STEALS: U-Mary 2 (Jefferson); Southwest Minnesota State 4 (Giddings 1, Birch 1, Condon 1, Meinders 1). BLOCKED SHOTS: U-Mary 6 (Henry 2, Decoste 2, Jefferson 1, Lindquist 1); Southwest Minnesota State 3 (Smith). TURNOVERS: U-Mary 12; Southwest Minnesota State 8.