Mustangs Edge Emporia State

SMSU 2-0 After 77-74 Win

KJ Davis poured in a team-high 18 points on 6 of 10 shooting with three 3-pointers to lead Southwest Minnesota State to a 77-74 victory over Emporia State (Kan.) at the NSIC/MIAA Challenge held at the Stewart Center on the campus of the University of Sioux Falls on Sunday afternoon.

SMSU improves to 2-0 for the second time in three seasons and the third time since 2009-10.

Joey Bartlett and Mitch Weg each scored 12 points for the Mustangs, while Carter Kirk also reached double figures with 11 points. Bartlett reached a major milestone during the second half becoming the 20th player in program history to score 1,000 career points.

SMSU finished the game shooting 48 percent (25 of 52) from the field, including 6 of 14 from 3-point range. SMSU held onto the victory despite committing 16 turnovers in the game and making just 9 of 18 free throws in the second half.

ESU (1-1), which defeated Sioux Falls on Saturday night, shot 51 percent (29 of 57) from the field, but was just 1 of 10 from 3-point range. The Hornets held a 33-30 rebound advantage.

SMSU held a 69-57 lead with less than six minutes left in the game, but ESU (1-1) rallied to tie the game at 70-70 with two minutes remaining. Weg hit one of two free throws to give SMSU the lead back with 1:42 remaining. Following a missed field goal by ESU, Weg answered with a huge basket to push the lead to 73-70 with 1:06 left in the game. After another ESU missed jumper, Ryan Bruggeman pushed the Mustang lead to 75-70 with a pair of free throws with 20 seconds on the clock.

ESU would later cut the deficit to 77-74 with four seconds left and after two missed free throws by SMSU, the Hornets’ Brandon Hall had one last chance to tie the game, but his desperation 3-pointer was off the mark sealing the Mustang victory.

ESU held a seven-point lead in the opening six minutes, before SMSU slowly cut into the lead. Davis gave SMSU its first lead of the game at 25-24 with a jumper at the 6:54 mark. The Mustangs would later build a its largest lead of the half at 37-28 following a field goal by Taylor Schafer with 3:19 remaining, before settling for a 39-36 halftime advantage.

ESU opened the second half with a field goal, but SMSU answered with a 10-0 run capped by a Bartlett basket to push the lead to 49-38.

SMSU held a 12-point lead on five different occasions later in the half, with the last coming at the 5:30 mark following a Schafer 3-pointer. ESU countered with a 13-1 run over the next three and a half minutes, taking advantage of three SMSU missed shots and a pair of turnovers, to tie the game with two minutes remaining.

Bruggeman dished out a game-high six assists and chipped in with eight points, while Schafer finished with nine points.

Southwest Minnesota State continues non-conference play on Tuesday night with a road game versus Northern State (1-1) at Wachs Arena in Aberdeen, S.D., starting at 8 p.m.