Midwestern State reaches Elite Eight
Mustangs overcomes free-throw woes in 73-66 win
EDMOND, Okla. - Midwestern State faced down its biggest weakness Tuesday night in the NCAA Divison II South Central Region championship.
"Free throws have been our Achilles' heel," MSU coach Grant McCasland said. "But we have a lot of tough guys who really want to win. It wasn't the free throws we took that were important, it was the ones we made."
The Mustangs connected on 18-of-24 charity tosses in the final six minutes of the game to come away with a hard-fought 73-66 victory against No. 4 Central Oklahoma.
The win not only ended the Bronchos' 25-game winning streak at Hamilton Fieldhouse, but also punched Midwestern's ticket for a return trip to the Elite Eight in Springfield, Mass.
The Mustangs will face No. 2 Bellarmine - an 86-66 winner against Ferris State on Tuesday - in the opening game in the national quarterfinals set for Wednesday morning at MassMutual Center.
"It took us some time to figure it out this year," South Central Tournament MVP Chris Hagan said. "But we're playing well at the right time and really believe in each other."
The biggest blows of the game came in a span of seven seconds when two-time Lone Star Conference North Division Player of the Year committed his fifth foul of the game when MSU's David Terrell scrambled for his own missed free throw with 7:07 to play.
"I really thought they had called a lane violation on the play," Terrell said. "But when I heard the roar of our crowd, I knew the call had gone our way."
Williams, who had picked four fouls in the opening six minutes of the second half, went to the bench with the game tied at 55-55.
Seven seconds after Terrell - a 35-percent free-throw shooter - hit two charity tosses, UCO's second leading scorer - Tyler Phillips - ran over MSU forward Darrick Thomas for his fifth foul of the game.
From there, the Bronchos struggled mightlily on the offensive end as they hit just two field goals over the last 10 minutes of the game and were held to 39.6 percent from the field.
Terrell led the way by posting his sixth double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Hagan and Michael Loyd with 11 points while Kevin Loyd and Charlie Logan pitched in eight points each.