Wayne, Neb. --- Senior guard Nick Ferrarini became the 38th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point milestone Saturday afternoon scoring 25 points on 10 of 15 shooting, but the Wayne State men’s basketball team ended the regular season with a 67-54 setback at Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall, Minnesota. Despite the loss, Wayne State captured their third NSIC South Division title in the last five seasons. WSC is now 18-10 and 13-9 in the NSIC South Division while SMSU is 16-11 and 12-10 in the league.

Wayne State, Sioux Falls and Upper Iowa each finished 13-9 in NSIC play this season, but the Wildcats are awarded the South #1 seed in the upcoming NSIC Tournament thanks to a 9-5 South Division record while USF and UIU each went 7-7 against teams in the South Division.

The Wildcats played Saturday’s game without leading scorer and rebounder Jordan Janssen, who sat out the contest with an injury.

Ferrarini opened the game scoring eight of the first nine points for the Wildcats in the opening 3:25 giving the ‘Cats an early 9-6 edge.

WSC was tied with SMSU 19-19 at the under 10 media time out (8:09), but the Mustangs went on a 14-1 run over the next 3:06 and took a 31-20 lead before the ‘Cats closed the half trailing 33-26 at intermission.

Ferrarini reached the scoring milestone early in the second half on a layup with 17:18 to play, giving him 15 points for the game at the time.

Another Ferrarini basket four minutes into the second half cut the Mustang lead to 37-35. That’s as close as WSC would get the rest of the game.

Southwest Minnesota State would slowly pull away and lead for double digits for much of the final seven minutes of the game for the 67-54 win.

WSC was still within four at 44-40 following a Jay Saunders layup with 9:00 to play. SMSU followed with a 10-3 run and built a 54-43 lead was never closer than eight points the rest of the contest.

Ferrarini closed the game with 25 points, canning 10 of 15 shots from the field, including 3 for 7 behind the arc, and 2 of 4 free throws. Saunders also hit double figures with 16 points, matching a career-high, on 7 of 10 shots.

Wayne State was 21 of 49 shooting for 42.9 percent, going 7 for 22 from 3-point range, and 5 of 8 at the line.

Southwest Minnesota State was led by Dunwa Omot with 18 points. Anthony Costello and Majok Majouk also hit double figures with 15 and 13.

SMSU made 26 of 56 shots for 46.4 percent, including 9 of 26 behind the arc, while making 6 of 8 free throws.

The Mustangs held a 34-29 edge in rebounding as Cody McCullough grabbed nine for WSC.

Wayne State earns a first round bye for the 2023 NSIC Tournament and will face the winner of Bemidji State and Augustana on Saturday, February 25th at 7 p.m. at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.