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Home Archived News Mustangs Eliminate Wonder Boys in Maryville

Mustangs Eliminate Wonder Boys in Maryville

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Joey Bartlett scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Southwest Minnesota State University to a 93-82 victory over Arkansas Tech University in the first round of the men's NCAA Division II Tournament at Bearcat Arena in Maryville, Mo., on Saturday afternoon.

With the win, the Mustangs (27-5) advance to play in a NCAA Division II Tournament Central Regional semifinal on Sunday, March 12.

The loss ended the Wonder Boys' season with an overall record of 21-8.

"We picked up early fouls in the second half, and we were fouling," said ATU head coach Chad Kline. "(Southwest Minnesota State) was in the double bonus the last 11 or 12 minutes, so every foul from there on out they were shooting two shots. That's how they separated. Give them credit. They made big shots when they had to. Our guys fought. We were down double digits a couple of times, and then we were right there with a chance to win it at the end. We just needed to make a couple more plays."

Arkansas Tech, which entered the game ranked fourth in NCAA Division II in 3-point field goals made (12.0 per game) this season, went cold from the perimeter early in the second half.

The Wonder Boys missed 10 of their first 13 tries from beyond the arc after halftime. As a result, Tech watched a 48-46 halftime lead slip away. Southwest Minnesota State used a 9-0 run to open a 66-57 edge with 13:05 remaining. Seven of the Mustangs' points during that surge came from the free throw line.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Trevon Woods and Freddy Lee pulled the Wonder Boys back within 66-63 at the 12:23 mark. The Mustangs responded by scoring 12 of the game's next 16 points, including a Michael Lee 3-pointer with 8:38 to go that extended the margin to 78-67.

Arkansas Tech did not go quietly. After trailing by as many as 13 points, the Wonder Boys startled the Mustangs with an 8-1 spurt in the closing minutes. Lee capped the run with a 3-pointer at the 1:14 mark that cut Southwest Minnesota State's lead to 88-82.

The Mustangs put it away on a pair of Ryan Bruggeman free throws with 1:08 remaining and a layup by KJ Davis with 52 seconds left. The Wonder Boys went 0-for-3 from 3-point range in the final 62 seconds and finished the game 12-of-36 (33 percent) from that distance.

Tech's Justin Graham had 20 points, four rebounds and six assists in his final collegiate game. Graham's fellow Wonder Boy senior, Bennie Lufile, notched 15 points and nine rebounds. Lee added 14 points for ATU, while Montrell Williams finished with 11 points and Grant Prusator poured in 10 points.

Southwest Minnesota State finished 21-of-29 (72 percent) at the free throw line, including 19-of-27 in the second half. Arkansas Tech was 12-of-15 (80 percent) at the free throw line on Saturday.