Daniel McElroy ® Sports Editor |
Photos by Mansoor Ahmad ® Media Director |
In an intense, air-tight battle, the Minnesota State men’s basketball team lost a double-overtime, playoff thriller against MSU-Moorhead in Sioux Falls tonight.
The 73-61 loss ends the Mavericks’ run in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament, but their season may not be over just yet; NCAA tournament selections take place March 7.
Malik Willingham wasted no time and got the Mavs on the board first with a three-pointer, but Moorhead’s leading scorer, Lorenzo McGhee, responded the same way.
After several failed attempts from both teams, Kelby Kramer found a lane for a monster dunk that pushed the lead to 5-3. Then the Dragons found a groove and scored nine unanswered points to go up 12-5.
Zach McDermott managed to fight his way to the basket and get MSU back in the zone with a layup, followed by Devonte Thredford’s drive to the net to make it four in a row for the Mavs.
After a scoring hiatus, Brady Williams found himself all alone for a three-pointer which tied the game at 12 midway through the first half.
The Mavericks found themselves with a three point deficit, but cut it to one with a beautiful alley-oop from Willingham to Kramer.
McGhee pulled the Dragons ahead 22-15 with two layups and two and-one’s on top of it. After the two teams went back and forth on a few baskets, Anderson found his way through for two layups in a row, bringing them back to within seven points at 28-21.
In the final possessions of the first half, the Dragons made a layup and a three-pointer, extending their lead to 33-21 going into the locker rooms.
At the half, Kramer and Williams led the scoring for the Mavericks at five points each, with Kramer pulling down 10 rebounds.
Anderson hit a three-pointer immediately in the second half, bringing his point total to seven on the day. Kramer made two free throws, followed by a Willingham three-pointer, to make it a nine-point game.
The scoring continued to go basket for basket, until Brady Williams drew a foul on his layup and made the extra point, keeping the Mavericks within seven at 48-41 with just over 10 minutes remaining in the second half. Willingham made a phenomenal layup, followed by a great play on defense, and finished off with a monster alley oop from Willingham to Brady again, making it a three point game at 48-45. Willingham continued his stellar performance and made another three-pointer to tie the game at 48.
Kramer continued to make great plays, coming up with a key block and forcing a turnover.
After a tie game for three minutes following Mankato’s 10-0 run, Jamal Nixon made a two-pointer, followed by a Dragons layup to tie the game again at 50.
After a timeout with four minutes remaining, both teams failed to convert on their possessions, but the Dragons answered first on a fast break. But Kramer battled back with a layup off a rebound.
With just over a minute remaining, Anderson found Willingham for a hook pass while driving the net to put the Mavs in the lead 55-53, which was quickly answered with a layup from the Dragons.
Holt missed a layup with 30 seconds left, which gave the Dragons one more chance. But they missed their final attempt with less than a second remaining, forcing a five-minute overtime period.
Kramer won the tip-off for the Mavericks, with Anderson scoring the first points in overtime to go up 57-55.
The Dragons answered with a layup of their own and then forced a Mavericks turnover, which they converted and took a two-point lead.
After the Mavs called a timeout with 1:46 remaining in OT, Holt hit a two-point jumper to tie the game at 59.
Thedford and Anderson found themselves in some miscommunication and passed the ball out of bounds, but made a huge stop at the net, gaining possession and calling a timeout with 34.7 seconds remaining. But when they failed to make anything happen, the Dragons had one more chance to win the game with 10.5 seconds left. The Mavs, again, came up huge on defense and gained possession with 3.9 seconds remaining.
Williams passed the ball half the court to Thedford, who drove the net while Anderson screened for him, just for the ball to tip off the rim on the layup and force a second overtime.
Kramer won the tip-off again, but didn’t convert on their possession.
The Dragons found the first points of the second overtime with a layup, just for Anderson to score off his own rebound, while drawing a foul in the process, but couldn’t make the extra point.
The Dragons went up by two following a layup with three minutes remaining, and the Mavs failed to convert again.
Holt fouled the Dragons on a rebound, and they made both free throws to take the lead 65-61 with one minute remaining.
The Mavs couldn’t finish strong enough to come back, and the final score ended up 73-61.
Willingham led the Mavericks in the effort with 16 points while shooting 33% from the field. Kramer was next with 13 points and four blocks.
Moorhead went on to play directly in the championship game against No. 2 Northern State Wolves, skipping over the semifinals due to Wayne State administering positive COVID-19 tests. The Dragons fell short to the Wolves 78-57, securing NSU’s fourth straight NSIC championship.