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Jordan Zrust scores 43 as Mayville State dominates second half in NAIA tournament opener

Mar. 15—SALINA, Kan. — Mayville State turned a one-point halftime deficit into a runaway victory on Friday afternoon in the opening round of the NAIA national tournament.

Mayville State senior Jordan Zrust scored 43 points to lead the Comets to a 87-58 victory over Freed-Hardeman.

Zrust finished 11-for-13 from the field, 5-for-5 from 3-point range and 16-for-17 from the free-throw line.

"They were physical and put us on our heels a bit," Mayville State coach Dennis Hutter said in a postgame press conference. "In the second half, we established ourselves and got after them with the way we play. I think the first five minutes of the third was really where it transpired. We didn't panic at halftime. We were here last year. We talked about a few minor adjustments. All of a sudden, I look up, and we are up 13."

Jes Mertens, a Devils Lake native, added 13 points, while Mackenzie Hughes, a former Thompson standout, scored 10 points.

Mayville State, which improved to 25-3, advances to the second round to play against LSU Shreveport at 3 p.m. Saturday.

After trailing 32-31 at halftime, the Comets started the second half on a 15-1 run to pull away.

The lead first pushed to double digits on a layup by former Grand Forks Red River athlete Alex Page, who made it 43-33 midway through the third quarter.

Moments later, Page found Zrust for a 3-pointer as the lead extended to 13.

"We shared the ball very well and played better defense in the second half," Zrust said in a postgame press conference. "I had a great game, but I'm more proud of our team and how we changed from the first half to the second half. I couldn't be more proud of my team."

The Comets led by 16 to start the fourth quarter.

Kaylee Odom led Freed-Hardeman, a program located in Tennessee, with 15 points.

Freed-Hardeman shot just 21-for-65 from the field.

Mayville State was 24-for-47 from the field. The Comets shot 20 more free throws than Freed-Hardeman.