Hamilton spurs MSU to victory in LSC tournament

History was sure to be made inside D.L. Ligon Coliseum during Tuesday night’s first round of the Lone Star Conference tournament.

Fortunately for MSU, they were on the right side of history following a 66-62 win over UT Tyler after trailing by 17 points in the first half. 

The win marked MSU coach Justin Leslie’s 300th career victory and secured a 10-0 record in conference tournament games at D.L. Ligon.

The Mustangs advance to meet Dallas Baptist at noon on Thursday in the Lone Star Conference tournament quarterfinals at the Comerica Center in Frisco, Texas.

“To get to milestones like 300 wins makes me realize I’m old and been around for a long time,” Leslie said on the MSU Digital Network. “I was concerned after our pregame practice – we didn’t have good energy, and we weren’t executing cleanly.”

UT Tyler built a 17-point lead with 9:54 remaining in the first half behind a dominant performance on both ends of the floor.

However, a Luke Hamilton 3-pointer at the 8:38 mark energized the 2,027 fans in attendance and provided a spark to his Mustangs teammates. Two more Hamilton 3-pointers sandwiched around a 3-pointer from Terrell Wilson helped MSU pull within 7 points at the half.

“We found a lineup that started working to close out the first half and put us within striking distance at the half,” Leslie said.

“Coach Leslie got on to us more before halftime because we weren’t defending the way we were supposed to, so we started playing better defense,” Hamilton said. “The halftime message was to keep playing good defense, and the shots will start to fall.”

Hamilton’s fourth 3-pointer of the game gave MSU its first lead with 13:58 remaining in regulation. However, the Mustangs needed another huge shot from beyond the arc from Hamilton to tie the game at 62 with 1:15 left in the second half.

“I’ve been working with our coaches every day making sure my footwork and release points are good,” Hamilton said. “Tonight, that work paid off.”

Hamilton also provided huge plays on the defensive end, including his fourth steal of the game that led to the game-winning layup by Wilson. The senior finished the night with 15 points, while Wilson led MSU with 20 points.

“Luke has struggled this year, and we need him to play well,” Leslie said. “What helped him get settled into the game was being the quarterback of our defense. He started getting a rhythm on defense, which took some pressure off him on the offensive end.

“I couldn’t be more excited that we get to play another game.”

Midwestern State 66, UT Tyler 62

UT TYLER (16-10)

Micah Fuller 8-13 4-4 23; Da’Zhon Wyche 3-11 0-0 6; Paul Djoko 3-6 0-0 7; Solomon Thomas 2-8 0-0 5; Milan Szabo 3-4 1-3 7; Eysan Wiley 4-7 1-2 10; Zaire Mateen 0-1 0-0 0; Finn Fleute 0-0 0-0 0; Kyle Frelow 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 25-53 6-9 62.

MIDWESTERN STATE (15-14)

Jalin Brown 3-5 0-0 6; Terrell Wilson 7-15 2-2 20; Amaechi Chukwu 2-3 0-0 4; Jermane Carter 3-7 2-4 8; Pierre Sanders 2-6 2-2 6; Jordan Teal 1-1 3-3 5; Jamey Sanders 0-0 0-0 0; John Weger 1-1 0-0 2; Luke Hamilton 5-13 0-0 15. Totals 24-51 9-11 66.Halftime score — UTT 37, MSU 30 3-Point Goals — UTT 6-21 (Fuller 3-6, Wyche 0-5, Djoko 1-1, Thomas 1-6, Wiley 1-2, Mateen 0-1); MSU 9-24 (Brown 0-1, Wilson 4-8, P. Sanders 0-3, Hamilton 5-12). Fouled Out — UTT (Wiley); MSU (None). Rebounds — UTT 32 (Frelow 7); MSU 25 (Brown 7). Assists — UTT 9 (Wyche 4); MSU 16 (P. Sanders 4). Total Fouls — UTT 13, MSU 13. Technicals — UTT (None); MSU (None). A — 2,027.