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SMSU Downs Central Missouri



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MARYVILLE, Mo. – Matt Zager hit the game-winning field goal with 5.4 seconds remaining to lift Southwest Minnesota State to a thrilling 64-62 victory over Central Missouri on Saturday afternoon at the Northwest Missouri State Classic in Maryville, Mo.

SMSU (3-3) held a 62-56 lead with four minutes and 14 seconds left in the game, before UCM (2-1) rallied with six straight points to tie the game with 1:32 remaining.  Both teams had two possessions to take the lead, with both missing a pair of field goal attempts to keep the game tied at 62-62.  Jordan Miller grabbed a UCM missed shot with 30 seconds left to set-up the final SMSU possession and the game-winning Zager field goal.

Miller led all scorers with a season-high 18 points, including three 3-pointers, while also grabbing 10 rebounds for his third career double-double.  He also dished out a game-high five assists.  Zager added a season-high 14 points on 6 of 11 shooing with a pair of 3-pointers, while Nick Smith rounded out SMSU’s double-figure scoring with 11 points and grabbing eight rebounds.

SMSU ended the game shooting 45 percent (23 of 51) from the field with six 3-pointers.  SMSU held a 36-31 rebound advantage, marking the first time SMSU has outrebounded an opponent this season.  UCM shot 40 percent in the game, but just 25 percent in the second half, with SMSU forcing 17 total turnovers.

SMSU played much of the game without starting point guard Vinard Birch, who suffered an injury early in the second half.

The two teams played a tight opening eight minutes before Jordan Buddenhagen gave SMSU its largest lead of the half at 18-12 with a 3-pointer at the 10:43 mark to cap a 10-4 SMSU run.

UCM answered with a 7-0 run to regain the lead and eventually pushed the margin to 24-21 with 6:30 remaining in the half.  The Mustangs stormed back with another run and went back out in front at 29-26 with a Zager 3-pointer at the 3:46 mark.

The teams would exchange the lead a handful of times in the final minutes before UCM eventually built a 36-34 halftime advantage.

Central Missouri jumped out to a 43-36 lead with 16:30 left in the game, holding its largest lead of the game, but SMSU slowed clawed its way back and regained the lead at 47-46 following a pair of free throws by Miller with 13:08 remaining in the game.

The lead changed several times over the next five minutes, before Zager gave SMSU a 61-56 lead with a basket at the 4:42 mark.  Miller would give SMSU a 62-56 lead shortly after, but the Mustangs were held scoreless until Zager’s game-winning basket.

Lavione West led SMSU bench scoring with eight points.

The game featured 13 lead changes and was tied nine times.

Charles Hammork led the Mules with 16 points and six rebounds.  UCM was picked to finish second in the Mid-American Athletic Association (MIAA) this season, after winning a share of the title in 2011-12.

Southwest Minnesota State will close out the two-day classic tomorrow afternoon taking on No. 24 Northwest Missouri State with tip-off slated for 3 p.m.
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