Minnesota State’s men’s basketball team had its season come to an end in the semifinals of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) Tournament on Monday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
After their loss, the Mavericks finish off the year holding onto a 21-10 record while going 14-8 in the NSIC. The Mavs had a regular season record of 12-7, which earned themselves a home game in the first round of the NSIC Tournament. After picking up a win over the University of Mary, the Mavericks got a victory over Concordia-St. Paul. Their season came to an end the following day against Upper Iowa.
Minnesota State will be saying goodbye to five seniors: Jon Fuqua, Aarias Austin, Grant Pope, Trey Sampson, and AJ Patty, as the season ends. Fuqua led the team this year in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 15.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Fuqua’s fantastic play led him to receiving All-NSIC First Team accolades. Fuqua has been a pivotal part of the Mavericks team since his arrival last year and there will be a huge hole to be filled in his absence.
Austin also made a big impact in his lone year with the Mavs, coming in third in scoring for the team with 11.8 points per game. Austin’s play in the NSIC tournament was also a big reason why the Mavericks were able to advance as far as they did. Austin also proved to be the team’s best passer, finishing the year with 95 assists which is nearly forty more than the second-best number of 57. Patty had the second-best rebound average on the team with 5.6, while adding 9.3 points a game.
Players that will be returning next year include Joey Witthus, who was the only other Maverick to earn All-NSIC honors by making it to the second-team. Witthus faced some injury problems late in the season but still came away averaging 13.7 points per game, while adding 4.7 rebounds. Look for Witthus to be the man to take the reins of the team as he enters his senior year during the 2017-18 season.
Coming off the bench to provide some spark for the team were junior Charlie Brown and freshman Cameron Kirksey. The duo combined for 25-bench points in the opening round of the NSIC tournament. Brown finished the year averaging 8.8 points while Kirksey added 6.2 points a game. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, it is a safe bet to assume a promotion will be in the works for both men during next year’s season.
As of now, the next season will have three seniors taking over as the vets of the team in Witthus, Cole Harper, and Jay Knuth.