The Minnesota State Mavericks had a competitive week of basketball this week, as they edged out the Minot State Beavers, 87-79, on Saturday in overtime, and then played Monday afternoon, against the no. 11 Northern State Wolves, where they lost, 78-79. Both games took place in Sioux Falls, SD, at the Pentagon.
The Mavericks were back into the regular season form that had them on two seven-game winning streaks throughout the regular season.
For the Mavericks, defeating the Beavers presented a tall order on the neutral pine for MSU. Minot State entered with a 20-9 record and waxed Upper Iowa 91-71 in the opening round of the playoffs.
MSU went after the Beavers immediately, hitting 14 three-pointers in the first half and sinking six of them. Kevin Krueger and Cole Harper led the Mavericks in the first half with eight points each. But the Mavericks also spread the ball nicely, with four players scoring five or more points in the first half and eight points off the bench.
MSU was up 38-33 after 20 minutes and looked to be in control despite the Beaver hitting 52 percent of their shots early.
What happened next can only be attributed to tournament fever. MSU continued to have players all over the roster step up. Charlie Brown scored 10 of his 14 in the latter part of the contest, Carlos Anderson added five of his total nine and the team shot 43 percent.
Tyler Rudolph was the difference for Minot State on the day. He shot well during the second half of the game, pacing the Mavericks for 16 of his 23 points in the second half. The Mavericks were on the cusp of losing during the final seconds of the game, until Kevin Krueger made a miracle 3-point shot in the final three seconds of the game, to tie the game and keep MSU from falling to the Beavers.
MSU went on to outscore the Beavers 12-4 in the overtime minutes and advanced to the second round with ease after the shot from Krueger.
The next round, the Mavericks went into their third round against the no. 11 Northern State Wolves, who entered the tournament with a 29-3 record. Again, the Mavericks would have to dig deep for a gritty win up against one of the better teams in the tournament.
It was tough sledding early, as the Wolves’ Ian Smith (finished with 16 points) and Evan Carter (finished with 15 points) both had 12 points in the opening half. They were the first two of four Wolves to eventually hit double-digit scoring in the game. The Wolves also got to the charity stripe for 16 attempts in the early 20 minutes.
However, after trailing 41-36, the Mavericks came back with a monster second half push. MSU pulled for 42 points in the second half, thanks to Krueger’s 22 points and Brown’s 18 points. While the effort was a valiant one, the Mavericks were one stop away from a comeback victory.
Senior guard, Charlie Brown, traveled down the lane for the Mavericks, making what seemed to be the game-winning bucket with 14 seconds left in the game. Unfortunately, Northern State guard Ian Smith was able to drive to the basket in the final seconds of the game, pushing the Wolves ahead 79-78, eliminating the Mavericks from the NSIC tournament.
The Mavericks made it to the third round of the playoffs, with a 22-9 record before falling to the Wolves on Monday. The team now awaits to if they make the DII championship tournament field. The selection show for the tournament will commence on Sunday, March 4. The team hopes their regular season and tournament resume is enough for them to receive a decent seeding in the tournament.
Photo: (Mansoor Ahmad/MSU Reporter)