No. 5 Mustangs win NCAA opener
Balanced attack lifts Midwestern State by St. Mary's (Texas)
WICHITA FALLS, Texas -- Fifth-ranked Midwestern State (Texas) began its quest for a third consecutive national quarterfinal appearance with a 62-54 victory against St. Mary’s (Texas) first-round action of the NCAA tournament on Saturday night.
The Mustangs, who led 30-23 at the half, used a balanced scoring attack and a strong inside game to get past the Rattlers and earn their 16th consecutive home victory in the friendly confines of D.L. Ligon Coliseum.
Midwestern State dominated inside the paint, outscoring St. Mary’s 40 to 28. MSU shot 10-of-17 from inside the three-point arc in the first half, but just 1-of-9 from beyond the arc.
Chris Buttermore provided a spark for the Mustangs in the first half with a team-high eight points in seven minutes off the bench, including a rim-rattling dunk that got the home crowd on their feet. He finished with a career-high 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and 1-of-2 at the free-throw line.
St. Mary’s started out strong against Midwestern State, trailing just 21-19 at the 6:24 mark. However, the Rattlers only scored two field goals the final 6:04 of the half, allowing the Mustangs to go on a 9-4 run to end the half.
Lamb Autrey led St. Mary’s with eight points in the first half, while Ray Marshall added six. Kevin Kotzur was slowed by two personal fouls in the first half, scoring just four points for the Rattlers.
The two teams combined for 20 turnovers in the game’s first 20 minutes, with 11 for the Rattlers and nine for Midwestern State.
St. Mary’s cut the lead to four points at the 14:42 mark of the second half, but could get no closer as the Mustangs got solid scoring from the bench, outscoring the Rattler’s reserves 35-9.
Midwestern State won the rebounding battle, hauling down 37 boards to St. Mary’s 21 rebounds.
Despite shooting just 2-of-11 from beyond the three-point line, the Mustangs had four players in double-figures. Along with Buttermore, David Terrell had a team-high 15 points, Thomas Colbert added 12 points and JaMichael Rivers chipped in 10 points to pace Midwestern State.
For St. Mary’s, Kotzur had a game-high 17 points and Autrey finished with 14 to lead the scoring column.