Mustangs clinch top seed with win over Hounds

CMI staff

WICHITA FALLS, Texas — Fifth-ranked Midwestern State broke open a close game with a 14-2 run over a five-minute stretch early in the second half and the Mustangs went on to a 79-64 victory over Eastern New Mexico University on Saturday night to clinch the top seed in next week’s Lone Star Conference tournament at Allen, Texas.

MSU (23-3, 15-3 LSC) finished in a tie for the top spot with Tarleton State, but won a tiebreaker over the Texans and will meet eighth-seeded Texas A&M-Commerce on Wednesday in a first-round game.

ENMU (14-13, 7-11) had already clinched the No. 6 seed in the tournament. The Greyhounds face third-seeded West Texas A&M in Wednesday’s opening game at 11 a.m. (MST).

Guards Michael Loyd and JaMichael Rivers led Midwestern State with 16 and 15 points, respectively, combining to shoot 12-of-20 from the field. They were the only Mustangs in double figures, but 12 players chipped into the scoring column and MSU got 33 points from its bench.

Junior post Greg McFarland led the Hounds with 13 points and seven rebounds, while senior guard Reggie Nelson and freshman guard Dylan Houlihan collected 10 points apiece.

The first half was closely contested, with neither team leading by more than three points until Loyd’s 3-pointer gave the Mustangs a 21-15 margin with 9:31 left.

A 7-0 spurt including a 3-pointer by Tralyn Harden and baskets from Kyle Lantz and Houlihan put ENMU in front 27-25 with under 4 1/2 minutes to go. Anthony Harris put the Mustangs in front for good and started an 8-2 run to send MSU into the half leading 36-31.

Curtis Wilkinson’s tip-in pulled the Hounds to within three to start the second half, but MSU’s Thomas Colbert converted a 3-point play and Rivers added a 3-pointer for a 42-34 margin. Harris ended the run on a dunk shot with 14:15 left to make it 50-35, and the Hounds got the margin under double figures just once in the remaining time.

MSU shot 54 percent from the field and posted a 38-28 edge in rebounds.