Minnesota State opened the new year with back to back games at home in the Taylor Center, where they went 1-1. With a 78-65 win over St. Cloud State and a 76-85 loss to Minnesota Duluth, the Mavs now sit at 12-4.
In their first game of the new year, the Mavs came out with energy and desire. Mavs’ senior guard, Trevor Moore, came out hot with five points in the first five minutes, leading them to an early 10-5 lead.
Staying composed, Moore and the Mavs built their largest lead of the half at 16 points with 10:03 remaining in the first half, 23-7. From there, the Huskies clawed their way back to within seven points at one time, but the Mavs went on a 12-4 run to close out the half, taking a 38-23 lead heading into the locker room.
Moore led all scorers in the first half with eleven points, while sophomore, Kyreese Willingham, posted 7 points and 5 rebounds. The Mavs shot 45% from the field in the first half, but that was not the main reason for their lead. Between good defense from the Mavs and less than impressive offense from the Huskies, the Huskies shot a putrid 23% from the field in the first half.
In the second half, the Huskies were held in check at first, but slowly inched their way closer and closer, cutting the Mavs’ lead to 54-47 with just under 10 minutes left to play. In the next four minutes, the Huskies went on an 11-3 run to take the lead, 58-57. However, the Mavs would take the lead back immediately with a three from Willingham, sparking a 10-0 run for the Mavs to put them back on top, 67-58 with four minutes remaining.
From there, the Huskies couldn’t manage to get back into the game, as they were unable to get within seven points for the rest of the night. With a final of 78-65, the Mavericks got their first win of 2023 and looked ahead to the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs the next night.
With 23 wins between the two teams, Bulldogs at Mavericks was leading up to be a highly contested matchup, and it did not disappoint. In the first half, neither team held a lead larger than six points. A dunk from freshman forward, Malcolm Jones, gave the Mavs their six point lead, 17-11, six minutes into the match.
The Bulldogs fought back to bring the game to a 23-23 tie midway through the opening stanza. The teams traded blows, with the game remaining tied at 33 with two minutes left in the first half. However, the Bulldogs grabbed momentum and outscored the Mavs 8-5 to close out the half, giving the Bulldogs a 41-38 lead heading into the locker room.
The Mavs shot 45% from the field in the first half, led by 18 points from the senior Moore. On the other side of the court, the Bulldogs shot a slightly better 48% and were led by Charlie Katona’s 12 points.
The second half began with ten straight minutes of two tough basketball teams struggling to gain an edge, with the Bulldogs leading 64-60 with ten minutes left. The Bulldogs would briefly break away from the Mavs, taking a 73-66 lead, but back-to-back baskets from Jones and Moore would cut their lead back down to two, 73-71 with just under six minutes left. Unfortunately for the Mavs, the Bulldogs would outscore them 12-5 to close out the game. The Bulldogs won a hard fought match, 85-76.
The Mavs were led in scoring by a career night from Moore, scoring 27 points and going 9-9 from the free throw line. Two other Mavs scored in double figures, as sophomore guard, Harrison Braudis, put up 16 points, and sophomore, K. Willingham, added 13 points as well.
The Mavericks will look to get back on track Friday Jan. 13, where they will hit the road to face Minnesota Crookston at 7:30 p.m.
Write to Hayden Lee @Hayden.Lee@my.smsu.edu
Header Photo: Kyreese Willingham (above) scored 13 points overall in last weekends game against The Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs. He was the third highest scorer on the Mavericks for this matchup. (Dylan Engel)