The Minnesota State men’s basketball team picked up two NSIC wins on the road last weekend. After escaping Minnesota-Crookston with a four-point win, the Mavericks asserted their dominance against Bemidji State, picking up a double-digit win. The set of wins has Minnesota State improving to 15-7 overall and 10-6 in the NSIC.
MNSU started their weekend against the University of Minnesota-Crookston on Jan. 27 in Crookston.
The Mavericks got off to a fast start by going on a 13-4 run, including back-to-back three-pointers from Aarias Austin. However, the Golden Eagles didn’t let go after the slow start and clawed their way back into the game. With 7:26 left in the first half, Crookston’s Connor Gamble hit at three to tie things up. However, MNSU’s Joey Witthus scored six of eight points to put the Mavs back ahead. At the half, the Mavericks went into the locker room holding a 39-32 lead.
MNSU came out of the locker room strong. Within four minutes of the half, the Mavericks were up by ten points. The Mavericks maintained a strong lead through the majority of the second half, but Crookston battled back and brought the deficit down to one possession with 2:36 left. Knuth and Jon Fuqa answered with a combined five points to go back up by seven to cement the lead for the game.
Minnesota State’s Witthus scored 16 points, Fuqa had 15 points and seven rebounds, Cole Harper added 15 points and grabbed six rebounds, while Charlie Brown added 11 points for MNSU.
Saturday’s game against Bemidji State did not see the same hot start like the game prior. The Beavers were up by seven points within the first five minutes of action. Halfway through the first half, BSU built their lead up to 13 points and looked as if they were going to control the rest of the game.
Minnesota State’s Trey Sampson and Cameron Kirksey tallied five points onto the board to bring it back below double-digits, as the Mavs began to fight back. The Beavers would step on the gas again and built their lead back up, this time by as much as 18 points. As the first half whistle sounded, the Beavers held a 47-36 lead.
Minnesota State held Bemidji State scoreless as they came out of the locker room and had four different players score to erase the deficit. Just over five minutes into the second half, the Mavericks tied it up and moments later Kirksey hit a three-pointer to give Minnesota State the lead. The Beavers took the lead again and held it for the next five minutes, until two three-pointers from Austin tied it then gave the Mavericks the lead.
MNSU went on a three-point tear in the last 6:31 of action. The Mavericks hit six three-pointers out of the seven field goals made. Austin and Witthus scored 15 points from beyond the arch in this stretch, giving the Mavericks an 86-73 comeback victory.
Minnesota State’s Witthus had 19 points and eight rebounds, Austin scored 17 points, Brown had 18 points, and Kirksey added 14 points. Witthus and Austin combined for 9 of 18 from three-point land, a ridiculous 50 percent shooting clip.
The Mavs will return to Bresnan Arena this coming weekend after spending the past two weekends on the road. They’ll face off with Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State in two NSIC match ups.