Men’s basketball gets back on track

The Minnesota State men’s basketball team returned home from their short stint in N.D., where they came home empty-handed in the win column. The Mavs got their chance at redemption this past weekend as they took on MSU Moorhead and Northern State at the Taylor Center. 

First up on the schedule for MSU were the Dragons, who came into the match one game ahead of the Mavs in the NSIC. The two battled it out in the first half, with the Mavericks heading into intermission with a 34-32 lead.

Moorhead did not shoot well overall from the field but were nearly unstoppable from behind the three point line which kept them in it. The Dragons buried 80 percent of their threes in the first half, but the Mavericks’ 46 percent overall field goal percentage kept them on top. 

Both teams came out of intermission trading buckets until the Mavs started to pull away. Sophomore guard Malik Willingham put MSU up by eight after making a two-point jumper, but the Dragons were able to slowly dwindle down the lead to three. 

It was back and forth from there until Moorhead was able to come within two with 25 seconds remaining in the game. The Mavericks were able to weather the storm and make their free throws in the remaining seconds, giving them the 74-68 win and their 11th win of the season.

Willingham was outstanding off the bench for MSU, scoring 23 points while collecting 2 rebounds and one assist in the effort while shooting 5-7 from three. 

Minnesota State returned to the Taylor Center the following evening to face Northern State with the hopes of returning to .500 in NSIC action. The Mavericks got off to a hot first half of play, out scoring the Wolves 36-28 before heading into intermission. 

The Mavs maintained a 16-4 point scoring run in the middle of the first half which helped keep their lead at eight before the second half started. 

Northern State was able to corral Minnesota State in the second half, but were only able to out score the Mavs by one point in the second. The Wolves inevitably fell to the Mavericks 75-68 in the contest, pushing MSU back at .500 on the season in the NSIC. 

Sophomore guard Quincy Anderson led the charge for the Mavs with 18 points and eight rebounds with Willingham doing his fair share off the bench once again. Willingham finished the night with 13 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes. 

The Mavericks now move to 12-6 overall on the season and 6-6 in conference play. The Mavs stay in-state this week for their three contests against St. Cloud State, Southwest Minnesota State and Sioux Falls.

The Huskies are up first, battling the Mavericks on Feb. 1 in St. Cloud. The game was rescheduled to this week due to Covid issues earlier in the season and now presents itself as the first game of a three-game week for the Mavs. 

History is pretty even between the two teams, with the Mavericks winning the past three contests. The Huskies are 9-11 overall this season and 5-8 in conference play. 

St. Cloud has the highest scoring player in the NSIC this season in junior guard Anthony Roberts, who averages 20.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. 

Header Photo: Sophomore guard Malik Willingham (2) scored a total of 36 points off the bench this past weekend and collected six rebounds in his effort as well. The Mavericks have St. Cloud up next this Tuesday.

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