SIOUX FALLS, SD — The Southwest Minnesota State men’s basketball team closed with a 24-12 run in the final eight minutes of the second half to rally and a big 64-54 road win over the University of Sioux Falls on Saturday afternoon to attain Stewart Center.
SMSU, eight points behind in the second half, earned their fourth straight win to improve to 9-4 overall, 5-3 NSIC. USF, top of the NSIC South Division earlier in the day, had ended its three-game winning streak and fell to 10-4 overall, 5-3 NSIC.
The win also ended a win of the season for the Mustangs, who defeated the Cougars in the league opener in Marshall in late November.
Dunwa Omot led the Mustangs with a team-high 20 points while Anthony Costello added 17 points, 15 of which came in the second half. Omot hit 8 of 11 from the field and was 4 of 4 from the foul line, while Costello finished 7 of 11 shooting with a team high of two 3-pointers.
The Mustangs shot 54 percent (26 of 48) from the field while making 5 of 11 3-pointers. SMSU was red hot in the second half, scoring 15 of 26 field goals (58 percent) with three 3-pointers.
The Cougars were limited to 33 percent (22 of 66) shots, including 8 of 34 from 3-point range. The SMSU defense was outstanding in the second half, limiting USF to just 28 percent shooting.
Matt Cartwright led the Cougars with 20 points on 8 of 23 shooting with four 3-pointers.
SMSU won despite USF having a 40-28 rebound advantage, including a 16-1 advantage in offensive rebounds.
Costello and Majok Majouk led the Mustangs with six rebounds each
USF, leading 30-25 at halftime, extended their biggest lead to 33-25 with over two minutes into the second half. The Cougars later held a 39-32 advantage with 10:50 in the second half before the Mustangs countered with a big run to take their first lead of the second half.
Omot started the spark with a layup, followed by field goals from Jakob Braaten and Costello and another layup by Omot to put the Mustangs 40-39 ahead at the 8:29 mark.
Conner Jackson hit a 3-pointer for USF to regain the lead, but Costello responded with a 3-pointer and hit another field goal shortly after to put SMSU at 45-42.
Cartwright would make a layup to reduce the deficit to 45-44, but SMSU again had an answer as Omot converted a three-point play, and back-to-back field goals from Jake Phipps would take the Mustang lead to 52-44 4:44 left.
USF didn’t want to walk away, eventually moving to 58-54 with 1:26 in the game, but Costello drilled a corner 3-pointer at the 1:12 mark to extend the lead to 61-54 and the Mustang never looked again improving to 3-2 in real road games this season.
Teams played a tight opening for 11 minutes before the Mustangs capitalized on a big run to build their biggest lead of the first half. In a 15-tie, Jakob Braaten scored a layup to start a 7-2 run, with Omot scoring five straight points to build a 22-17 lead at the 4-26 mark.
However, USF would respond with a 13-3 run in the final four minutes of halftime to take a 30-25 halftime lead. The Cougars recorded eight offensive rebounds in the first half, resulting in six points.
SMSU shot 50 percent in the first half with a pair of 3-pointers, while USF shot just 38 percent but made four 3-pointers.
SMSU continued the road action with two games in North Dakota next Friday and Saturday. The Mustangs meet UMary in Bismarck on Friday at 7:30 p.m. before taking on Minot State on Saturday, Jan. 7.