The Minnesota State men’s basketball team is gearing up to hit the road this weekend and will be looking to continue to build upon their four-game winning streak from the last two weekends. With just two weekends and four games left on the schedule for the regular season, the team is starting to focus on what it will take to put it all together.
“I’m just glad we put ourselves in a position at the end of the season to play for something. Not only playing for a conference championship in the division, but a high seed in the NSIC tournament and a NCAA post season bid,” head coach Matt Margenthaler said.
On Friday, the Mavericks head to Fayette, Iowa to take on the Upper Iowa Peacocks (16-8, 13-5 in the NSIC) and on Saturday are back in Minnesota as they take on the Winona State Warriors (10-12, 7-11 in the NSIC). While the Mavericks dropped games to both teams earlier in the year, Coach Margenthaler doesn’t look at this weekend as ‘revenge’ games.
“It doesn’t matter if we beat them or got beat by them, we prepare the same way every weekend,” explained Margenthaler. “I just think that it’s been so long, these two teams we’re playing are different teams than we played the first time. I think we’re a different team. I think we’re playing better and with more confidence than the first time around.”
The Peacocks are on a losing side of a streak as they dropped both of their games against Northern State and Minnesota State Moorhead. Before the back-to-back losses, Upper Iowa was on a five-game winning streak. The last time the Mavericks and Peacocks met was on Dec. 10 of last year. Behind 16 points from Josh Weeber, the Peacocks picked up an 82-77 win.
Upper Iowa has five men averaging double-digit scoring and in the lead is Jordan Hay with an average of 12.1 per game and adding 6.4 rebounds. Following closely behind is Jimmy Roth with 12.1 points per game. Carson Parker is just behind the two with 11.5, but also has a team-leading 95 assists.
“Upper Iowa is a team that’s very gifted. We’re going to have to defend them. They put the ball on the floor extremely well, attack the rim, and have three or four shooters that can hit the three,” noted Margenthaler.
Winona State is also on a two-game losing skid and has lost five of their last seven games. The Mavs and Warriors met earlier in the season and being led by Isaiah Gray’s 26 points, Winona State walloped Minnesota State 89-64.
The Warriors’ Riley Bambenek leads the team in scoring with 15 points per game. Issiah Gray is averaging 11.5, Tommy Gathje is averaging 11 points per game and a team leading 4.9 rebounds per game, and Josh Mongan leads the team in assists with 83 on the year.
“You wanna be playing your best basketball at the end of the season and I think we are right now,” said Margenthaler.
Minnesota State plays Upper Iowa on Friday at 8 p.m. and Winona State on Saturday at 6 p.m.