Men’s basketball rally past second half surge

Brent Deeb

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In MSU's 73-65 win over The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma Monzaigo Williams, senior in social work,  attempts to pass Dec. 3 in D.L. Ligon Colisuem. Photo by Lauren Roberts.

In MSU’s 73-65 win over The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma Monzaigo Williams, senior in social work, attempts to pass Dec. 3 in D.L. Ligon Colisuem. Photo by Lauren Roberts.

The Mustangs were able to stand their ground against a strong second half surge from the University of Science & Arts (Okla.) Tuesday night despite being dropped to No. 20 in the latest National Association of Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 on Tuesday afternoon, winning 73 to 65.

“One of the things we’ve really been working on is putting away teams in the second half,” Tres Segler, assistant men’s basketball coach, said. “We need to keep that killer mentality.”

The game, originally scheduled for Nov. 22, was postponed due to icy conditions.

A small crowd did not faze the players who began the game with a quick spark. Eddie D’Haiti, (17 pts, 7 reb) scored the first two buckets of the game, giving MSU an early 4-0 lead. The Drovers would retaliate with a couple of quick baskets to take an 11-10 lead at the game’s first stoppage.

Out of the timeout came a back-door alley-oop pass from Kevin Wagner (2 pts, 2 ast) to Tavarion Nix (10 pts, 8 reb) that sparked a 14-6 run by the Mustangs. That run forced another Drover timeout with 9:21 left in the first half and an MSU lead, 24-17.

The Mustangs continued to cruise through the first half, finishing the period on an 18-3 run, going into the locker room up by 22.  D’Haiti clearly had the first-half mismatch, putting in 10 points and 4 rebounds.

“Eddie played huge tonight,” Derrell Gibbs (3 ast, 0 turnovers) said. “He was hitting shots inside and out and really pulling the load down low.”

The start of the second half witnessed the same alley-oop play from the first, this time with Derek Kaster (11 pts) as the recipient of a Monzaigo Williams (15 pts, 5 assists) dish. However, USAO having won three of their last four games, soared back into the game with 14 second-half points from Donnie Brown.

The hot shooting of Brown motivated the Drovers to eliminate the first-half deficit as they dominated the start of the second period with a 25-8 run, cutting the lead to just two with 9:05 left in the game.

The Mustangs’ relentless defense combined with two quick buckets from DeJuan Plummer (7 pts, 5 rebounds), a steal and fastbreak layup from Williams and a three-point play from D’Haiti quickly brought the lead back up to 10 as the team controlled the remainder of the game, capping it all off with a two-handed slam from Nix with 20 seconds left.

“It’s really encouraging to know all of our players, both our starters and our deep bench, will give that kind of effort,” Segler said. “We’re going to need that come tournament time.”

The Mustangs had a 46-14 advantage in the paint and the bench outscored USAO 27-15 in the 20th meeting of the two teams. MSU increases its record to 13-7 against the Drovers and 6-2 overall this season.

The team will return to D.L. Ligon Coliseum in its next match against Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) on Dec. 17. Tip off will begin at 7 p.m.

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