It was an up-and-down weekend for the Minnesota State men’s basketball team. They hosted the Minot State Beavers on Friday night and the Mavericks soundly defeated them. This win gave the Mavericks 12 wins on the season. Saturday night, however, did not go as planned as the University of Mary Marauders stole one at the Taylor Center.
The Mavs had the advantage in just about every category for the Minot game. They shot 55 percent from the field, compared to Minot’s 41 percent. The Mavericks also out-rebounded them 40-29 and won the battle in the paint, 40-24. Senior forward Jon Fuqua and sophomore guard Joey Witthus led the scoring for the Mavericks with 21 each. Fuqua also added five rebounds and assists to the stat sheet, while Witthus notched seven rebounds and two assists.
Both teams started with cold shooting from the field, but the Beavers found themselves with the lead at 10-5 five minutes into the game. The first half score was fairly close the whole way. Both teams were exchanging leads, with neither able to pull away. The Mavericks went into half-time down 34-33, following a buzzer-beater three from Minot’s Nathan Moore.
The half-time adjustments clearly worked for the Mavericks. Within the first minute of the half, they grabbed the lead and owned it for the rest of the game. Minnesota State buried the Beavers as they went on a 12-0 run with 13 minutes left in the second half. That run extended their lead to 15. Then the flood gates were opened soon afterwards. With seven minutes left in the game, the lead grew to 26, and that is Head Coach Matt Margenthaler made his move in replacing Fuqua and Witthus for the bench players. The Mavericks ended up winning the game, 81-66.
In the University of Mary game, the Mavs struggled making shots and getting in rhythm. Meanwhile, the Marauders clicked as a team all game. University of Mary finished with a 50 percent field goal percentage and a whopping 70 percent from beyond the 3-point line. The Mavericks finished shooting an abysmal 36.5 percent and 34.8 percent from beyond the arc. They both finished with 37 rebounds each as a team and points in the paint with 18. Fuqua was the leading scorer for the Mavericks with 24 points. Witthus struggled all night and finished with six points, shooting 2-13 and 1-8 from three.
MSU fell behind early and was playing catch-up the whole way through. Half-way through the first half, the Mavericks were down 22-16 and they just could not chip away at the deficit. By half-time, MSU found themselves down 42-31. The lead hovered around 11 throughout the entire second half. The Mavericks failed to get a run going and the attempt at a comeback was never there.
After last weekend, the Mavericks are currently sitting at a 12-6 overall record, with a 7-5 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) record, which puts them at fifth in the South Division of the Conference. Up next for the Mavericks, they will be traveling to Sioux Falls to take on the University of Sioux Falls Cougars. Tip-off is on Friday, Jan. 20 at 8 p.m. After that, they head to Marshall to compete against Southwest Minnesota State on Saturday. Tip-off for that game is set for 7 p.m.