With just over a month left in the regular season, Minnesota State sits at 13-5 overall and is currently in fifth place in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
This week, the Mavericks will be taking on the number one and three teams in the NSIC. Their first opponent will be Northern State, who are currently tied for second place with Minnesota Duluth with a 13-5 record as well, but are 9-3 in conference play. Their next game will be a matchup with Moorhead State, who currently stands alone atop the conference rankings with a 15-3 record. Unfortunately, the Mavs will not have the luxury of playing in the Taylor Center for either game, as their long road trip continues.
Over the past few weeks, the Mavs have been without Brady Williams, Malik Willingham, and now sophomore guard, Harrison Braudis, who was playing with a slipped disk in his back, but sat out the teams’ last two contests.
Despite their misfortune with injuries, Mavs Coach, Matthew Margenthaler, emphasized being able to continue looking towards their next opponents rather than the sulking about the injuries.
“We’re really banged up right now, but no one is going to feel sorry for us, and we’re not going to make excuses,” said Margenthaler.
Looking forward to Friday, the Mavericks will head over to Aberdeen, South Dakota to take on the Northern State Wolves. This matchup will be huge for both teams, as both are top 5 teams in their conference and are gunning for more than just a win this Friday night. The Wolves have won 7 of the last 8 matchups between the two, and the Mavs hope to change the narrative moving forward.
The 2022-23 Wolves roster includes a star guard at the top in senior Sam Masten, who on the year has managed to lead the team in points with 17.7 per game, is tied for the lead in rebounds per game with 6.8 per game, and leads the entire NSIC in assists per game with 6.6. Masten is complemented by Moni Jacksen, Augustin Reede and Josh Dilling who all are shooting over 37% from beyond the arc this season and have surely helped Masten’s assist numbers.
In what should be another tough matchup, the Mavs will travel to take on the no. 22 ranked Minnesota State University Moorhead Dragons Saturday. The Mavs won at home last year in what was another close game, 74-68 and hope to extend their winning streak against the Dragons to two games.
However, nothing is easy in the final month of play, as every team is trying to stack as many wins as possible in order to move up in the standings. This season, the Dragons are led by sophomore guard, Jacob Beeninga, and senior guard, Lorenzo McGhee. They lead the team in scoring with 17 and 14.3 points per game and form a formidable one-two punch. Down low, 6’7” junior forward Dane Zimmer is averaging 7.9 rebounds per game and poses a threat to anyone trying to score in the paint.
With two top five teams on the schedule for this weekend, the Mavs need to be locked in and ready in order to keep their season afloat.
“We have been playing well and extremely hard, but we just need to be able to finish,” said Margenthaler. “We just need to execute better down the stretch.”
Write to Hayden Lee at Hayden.Lee@my.smsu.edu
Header Photo: MSU Men’s Basketball team plays Friday, Jan. 20 against Northern State and Saturday, Jan. 21 against MSU Moorhead as they seek to return to the win column. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)