Minnesota State’s Aarias Austin had 25 points, seven assists and five rebounds to help lead the Mavericks to an 87-78 win over the University of Mary Marauders in the first round of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) Tournament Wednesday night at Bresnan Arena.
“We shot the heck out of the basketball tonight and I thought the bench was our difference tonight,” Head Coach Matt Margenthaler said.
The first five minutes of action saw both teams battling to gain the edge on one another. Just under seven minutes into the first half, the Mavericks built their lead up to five after Aarias Austin converted two free throws to make the score 15-10. On Mary’s next possession, Pat Thomas drilled a three to bring the deficit down to one, but a two-pointer from Fuqua and three from Austin put the Mavericks up 22-15 at the halfway mark of the first half.
Austin gave the Mavericks their first double-digit lead with eight minutes left in the first half when he converted at the line to bring the lead up to 29-19.
Minnesota State was in firm control, going up by as much as 15, but the Marauders did their best to keep the game within reach with Bryan Jefferson supplying Mary’s team-high 16 first half points. However, Fuqua and Austin combined for 23 points to help the Mavericks head into the half holding a 46-33 lead. Charlie Brown added nine points off the bench in the first half.
Fuqua opened up the second half with a block on Jefferson and a layup on the Mavericks first possession, followed by an attack on the rim their second. Minnesota State traded buckets back and forth but wasn’t able to put a lid on Austin’s offensive explosion.
Mary’s lack of offense outside of Jefferson was the team’s biggest obstacle in the second half comeback attempt as Minnesota State continued to build upon their lead. Halfway through the second half, Minnesota State held a comfortable 15-point lead with a 68-53 score. Minnesota State maintained their double-digit lead throughout the remainder of regulation as the Marauders were unable to consistently get the stops they needed in order to cut down their deficit. As time expired, the Mavericks secured an 87-76 win to advance to the second round.
Minnesota State’s Fuqua had 17 points and eight rebounds, Charlie Brown scored 13 points, and Cameron Kirksey added 12 points.
“They’re seniors. They need to continue to step up and play like they did tonight and they have to play their backs against the wall because when we lose, if we lose, their career is over,” Coach Margenthaler said on Austin and Fuqua’s performance.
The Mavericks will take on the winner of the MSU-Moorhead/Concordia St. Paul matchup round two of the NSIC Tournament on Sunday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
“They’re a team we’ve already beat once on the road, we’re going to have to score with them, they’re one of the best scoring teams in the league,” Coach Margenthaler said.