MARSHALL – Saturday night was on its way to looking just like Friday night for Southwest Minnesota State – a loss.
With four minutes left, the Mustangs trailed by seven. That’s when Ryan Bruggeman took the game over and led SMSU to a 86-84 come-from-behind victory over Minot State.
The redshirt freshman finished with seven points and eight assists in the win.
Bruggeman was responsible for 10 of his team’s 11 points in the last four minutes, tallying five points and two assists in the stretch.
His last two points were the biggest.
The Mustangs made a defensive stop and got the ball back with 17 seconds remaining and the game tied at 84. Bruggeman did the rest.
“The coaches drew up a play to give me a high ball screen,” Bruggeman said. “Coming off, we had Joey (Bartlett) popping up and Shaun (Condon) in the corner. (Minot State) just went to the shooters and I had a free lane.”
The high ball screen was an adjustment made by the coaching staff late in the game.
“We provided some space on the floor to allow for better driving lanes,” SMSU coach Brad Bigler said. “Fortunately for us, Ryan was able to turn the corner and get that layup.”
It was a familiar sight for the Beavers, as they lost Friday night to the University of Sioux Falls in overtime on a last-second shot. This time, the defensive lapse was a breakdown in execution by Minot State.
“We came out of timeout saying we have to protect the lane and make them take a contested jumper and we didn’t do that,” MISU coach Matt Murken said. “Good execution on their part.”
Carter’s career night
The Beavers defense struggled to contain Carter Kirk all night long. The reserve center finished the game with a career-best 19 points on 9 of 10 shooting.
In the first half, the only thing that slowed Kirk was foul trouble. Though the sophomore center only played eight minutes due to picking up three fouls, he led the Mustangs in the frame with nine points.
“When he can slow it down and allow things to come to him, boy he’s a tough matchup in the post,” Bigler said. “Now the next phase is, there are teams that will double him and we have to make the right decision out of those doubles. He has the skill set and size to throw over the double team, but now we have to make the right decision and other guys will have to knock down those open shots.”
Just like he did throughout the night, it was Kirk who came up big in a key moment, getting a bucket and a blocked shot to start the SMSU comeback.
It was that block that began an improved defensive effort down the stretch, as the Beavers finished just 2 for 9 from that point forward. Dominique McDonald had an open look for Minot State as time expired, but he missed the game-tying layup and SMSU escaped with the 86-84 win.
SMSU will close out the 2015 portion of its schedule on Saturday night at the R/A Facility against USF. The Cougars defeated the Mustangs 78-72 in the first meeting of the season between the teams.