March 15, 2009

WARRENSBURG, Mo. - Midwestern State University was out-shot and out-rebounded, but ultimately out-scored the University of Incarnate Word, 87-82, to advance Saturday night to the semifinals of the NCAA-II South Central Regional.

In a hotly contested game that saw six ties and six lead changes, Midwestern State (24-6) led 44-36 at the break. They led by as much as 13 in the opening stanza, but it wasn't easy. Incarnate Word dominated inside, so the Mustangs went to the perimeter game, hitting 4-of-8 from beyond the arc to maintain its advantage.

Incarnate Word (23-6), though, came out on fire after the half, hitting 62 percent from the floor while holding the Mustangs to 43 percent shooting. The Cardinals out-scored MSU 16-7 over the first 6:10 to take their first lead, 53-51, with 13:50 to play. The lead would change hands five times over the next minute-and-a-half before Midwestern State grabbed it for good, 58-57, on a pair of Charlie Logan free throws at the 12:18 mark.

The Cardinals hit a sizzling 57.4 percent from the floor, but knocked down just 4-of-17 from three-point range. Midwestern State, meanwhile hit 45 percent, but hit one more trey and also converted 26-of-29 from the charity stripe. Incarnate Word owned a 32-to-29 rebound advantage. But the Mustangs held a 10-to-6 edge on the offensive glass, and forced 14 UIW turnovers.

Nolan Richardson led all scorers with 24 points for the Mustangs. Earl Rabb added 19 points and seven rebounds, and Craig Green chimed in with 11 points and eight boards.

Incarnate Word was led by Tracy Robinson, who had 20 points and seven boards off the bench. Jawan Bailey had 16 points, six rebounds and six blocked shots, while Garrett Bell and Shaun Umeh had 14 and 11 points, respectively.

Midwestern State will face the host University of Central Missouri in a semifinal match-up Sunday at 6:30 p.m. The Mules advanced by defeating Texas A&M-Kingsville 78-55.