March 15, 2009

*Courtesty of Southwest Minnesota State Athletics

MARSHALL, Minn. - Ryan Krome scored 16 points and No. 1 seed Southwest Minnesota State put together a fine shooting performance to defeat No. 4 seed Minnesota State, Mankato 77-69 in the semifinals of the Central Region Tournament Sunday night in Marshall.

SMSU improves to 27-6, while MSU finishes its season with a 26-9 record.

The win advances the Mustangs to the region championship game on Tuesday at 7 p.m. where they will face No. 7 seed Augustana, who defeated No. 6 seed Winona State earlier in the day to secure a spot in the title game.

Krome was one part of a balanced offensive effort on behalf of the Mustangs; seven different players had at least six points for SMSU. Scott Roehl and Andy Beilke hit double-figures with 13 and 11 points, respectively.

Jake Morrow's game-high 17 points led MSU, which also put together a solid shooting outing--connecting on 43.1 percent of their shots from the field.

MSU held a four-point halftime advantage, and the Mavericks kept possession of that lead for the first 11 minutes of the second half. However, the Mustangs chipped away, finally taking a 50-40 lead with 8:13 remaining off a Roehl free throw.

The Mavericks quickly answered with a Morrow three-pointer to take a one-point lead.

But it was Roehl who gave SMSU the lead again, nailing a layup to make it 53-52.

SMSU did not trail for the remainder of the game, stretching its lead to as much as 10 points with a minute left in regulation.

The Mustangs sank eight free throws in the last minute and a half of play.

The 27th win is just one shy of the SMSU school record for victories in a season. The 2001 squad that advanced to the Elite Eight posted 28 wins. The 2001 season was also the only other time SMSU has played for a region title.