Suffocating defense leads MSU to victory over WNMU

Midwestern State entered Thursday’s game, having won four of its last five games. Make that five wins in the previous six games following a 69-50 win over Western New Mexico.

The Mustangs’ only loss during the span was on the road to No. 1 Lubbock Christian. The key to the current run of success is a familiar formula to MSU fans – a suffocating defense.

MSU held WNMU to 0.725 points per possession in the contest while forcing 17 turnovers, which led to 21 points for the home team.

“It’s always fun when you’re on the right side of the scoreboard, and your team is executing their identity,” MSU coach Justin Leslie said on the MSU Digital Network. “Since we came back from Christmas (break), there hasn’t been a day we haven’t practiced defense for at least half of practice. We haven’t been a good shooting team, and if we want to be good, we have to guard.”

Jermane Carter scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead an MSU squad seeking a home game in the first round of the Lone Star Conference tournament. If the Mustangs finish as one of the top four seeds, MSU still can automatically advance to the quarterfinals at the Comerica Center in Frisco, Texas.

“The mentor that I played for and worked with for many years was always good about having his teams play better as the season went on and played their best basketball in March,” Leslie said. “That’s what I want, and as a coach, you have to bring your best every day for these kids, and you have to bring them something new to challenge them or you’ll lose their attention.”

The Mustangs travel to meet Texas A&M-Kingsville and Texas A&M International before returning home to begin its final homestand of the regular season against Arkansas-Fort Smith on Feb. 24. The game is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start.

Midwestern State 69, Western New Mexico 50

WESTERN NEW MEXICO (10-9, 3-6)

Amarion Cash 1-4 0-1 2; Tony Avalos 1-8 0-0 2; Malik Johnson 2-10 2-4 6; Jordan Doss 0-5 2-2 2; Ian Hohenstein 1-4 1-3 3; Joshuwan Johnson 6-12 0-1 17; Andrew Leonard 1-4 0-0 2; Dylan Arnette 6-8 0-0 14; Olamide Pedersen 1-3 0-0 2; Josiah Turner 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-59 5-11 50.

MIDWESTERN STATE (11-13, 7-5)

Jalin Brown 4-7 2-2 12; Terrell Wilson 4-8 1-2 11; Amaechi Chukwu 4-7 1-1 9; Jermane Carter 5-8 3-4 15; Pierre Sanders 2-9 0-1 5; Jordan Teal 0-3 0-0 0; Jamey Sanders 1-2 5-5 8; John Weger 0-0 3-3 3; Luke Hamilton 2-8 0-0 6. Totals 22-52 15-18 69.Halftime score — MSU 31, WNMU 19. 3-Point Goals — WNMU 7-20 (Cash 0-2, Avalos 0-2, Johnson 0-1, Doss 0-2, Johnson 5-9, Leonard 0-2, Arnette 2-2); MSU 10-30 (Brown 2-5, Wilson 2-6, Carter 2-3, P. Sanders 1-5, Teal 0-1, J. Sanders 1-2, Hamilton 2-8). Fouled Out — WNMU (None); MSU (None). Rebounds — WNMU 38 (Pedersen 9); MSU 39 (Carter, Hamilton 8). Assists — WNMU 7 (Arnette 2); MSU 15 (Brown, Wilson, Carter 3). Total Fouls — WNMU 18, MSU 16. Technicals — WNMU (None); MSU (None). A — 1,276.