WICHITA FALLS, Texas — Fifth-ranked Midwestern State is moving on to the Elite Eight for a third consecutive year after a 77-61 win against No. 15 Arkansas Tech on Tuesday.
Midwestern State came in looking for its 18th consecutive home-court victory under the dome and have won 53 of its last 54 games in Wichita Falls.
Arkansas Tech, on a six-game winning streak and playing in a regional final for the first time in school history at the Division II level, started out hot from the field in the game’s first five minutes, hitting four of their first six shots to take a 9-7 lead against the Mustangs.
The Wonder Boys cooled off considerably after that, hitting just six of their next 22 shots to end the half.
Senior David Terrell’s blocked shot on the defensive end led to fast-break points for Midwestern State as senior Michael Loyd’s layup on the other end and foul by the Wonder Boy’s Jeremy Hoard resulted in the Mustangs taking the lead at 14-13 with 11:56 left in the half.
Junior Kevin Grayer provided a defensive spark off the bench for Midwestern State, coming down with a key steal and rebound to keep the game tight. The Mustangs were able to control the boards in the first half, outrebounding the Wonder Boys 26-16.
Tech took their largest lead of the first half during a 5-0 run culminated by a Johnie Davis tip-in, making it 21-16. Davis, with 19 points in the game, moved into 10th on the Tech all-time scoring list with 634 points.
Back to back layups by Michael Loyd and junior JaMichael Rivers cut the lead to one point at 21-20 with 5:35 left.
A 10-foot jumper at the free-throw line by senior Kevin Loyd tied the game at 24 at the 3:29 mark of the half.
Terrell’s reverse layup right before the shot clock expired tied the game at 29-29 with six seconds left before intermission.
After a Tech timeout, Davis’ 3-point attempt at the buzzer was long, ending the first half.
Midwestern was led by Rivers’ eight first-half points, while Tech was paced by senior Mykel Cleveland’s nine points.
Both teams came out firing to start the second half. Midwestern hit five of their first seven shots, while the Wonder Boys hit on three of four from the field, tying the game at 38.
Rivers trey at the 16:10 mark started a 10-3 run for MSU over a 3:21 time span, but the Wonder Boys’ Will Paul hit a trey to bring it back to a two-point game at 46-44 with 13:10 left.
Grayer’s drive to the bucket with 9:26 left in the contest put Midwestern State up 55-48, part of a 9-1 run over a 3:18 time span.
Paul broke the run at the charity stripe to cut the lead to 55-49.
Arkansas Tech turned to a full-court press defensively, trying to force the Mustangs into turnovers, but MSU was able to handle the pressure. Rivers layup made it 61-51 in favor of Midwestern State with 5:58 left in the game.
Midwestern State then went on a 12-3 run over a 2:59 time span to put the game away, making it 73-58 enroute to the 16-point win.
The Mustangs were paced by Loyd’s 19 points, while JaMichael Rivers added 16 and Kevin Grayer 13.
The Wonder Boys were led by Davis’ 19 points, while senior Will Haney had 12.
Midwestern State improved to 29-3 overall as it advances to the Elite Eight starting March 21st in Highland Heights, Ky.
Arkansas Tech closes their season at 26-6.