Returning home Friday and Saturday, Minnesota State was looking to bring home two wins on the weekend. With a 1-1 split, the Mavs kept their season alive, but will need to win two consecutive games and create some momentum heading into the playoffs. Both games were hard fought, and the proof is in the final scores.
It came down to the final seconds, but the University of Mary Marauders defeated the Mavericks 69-67 on Saturday. The very next day, the Mavs bounced back and claimed a 70-66 victory over the Beavers of Minot State.
The Marauders held the lead for the entirety of the first period Friday evening, but it was never out of reach for the Mavs, as they were always within a few scores of the Marauders for the majority of the half. The duo of brothers, Kyreese and Malik Willingham, kept the Mavs competitive throughout the first 20 minutes, including layups that brought the team within five with 3:24 remaining in the half, 31-26.
From there, the Marauders went on a 7-2 run to close out the half up ten points, 38-28. The one-two punch that has proven to be the Mavs’ best this season was at it again; Malik Willingham had 11 points, and Trevor Moore had 7. However, the Mavs’ team shooting percentage was suffering, as they shot just 36.7% from the field in the first half.
The Mavs were unable to find a rhythm coming out of the break, as the Marauders went on a 13-0 run, and after a layup from Tyrell Stuttley, went up by as many as 26 points with just under 13 minutes remaining, 58-32.
At 11:27, Coach Margenthaler subbed Moore, Mason Mueller, Kyreese and Malik Willingham back into the game, and those four brought the Mavs back into the game. The Mavs went on a 12-0 run in the next four minutes with each player contributing. Kyreese Willingham came in and blocked two shots on two consecutive possessions which led to five points for Malik Willingham on the other end. Moore added 5 points during the run and Mueller scooped up 2 boards and 2 points.
As the Mavs kept chipping away at the lead, the players gained more confidence as Moore even went as far as completing a four-point play to bring the Mavs within one point, with seven seconds to go. The Mavs were forced to foul, and Zyon Smith of the Marauders made one-of-two free throws to keep them somewhat safe. The Mavs turned the ball over on their next possession, but fouled Lucas Mayer with just three seconds remaining. Mayer missed both free throws, and Kyreese Willingham was able to get a half court shot off, which fell short.
Malik Willingham (26) and Moore (21) led the Mavs in scoring during this rollercoaster of a game, while Kelby Kramer and Kyreese Willingham each had four blocks, holding it down on the defensive end in the loss.
From one close game to another, the Beavers came to town Saturday and Minot State had visions of sending the Mavs home winless on the weekend. Unfortunately for the Beavers, Moore, Malik Willingham and Kyreese Willingham play for the Mavs.
An 18 point and 10 rebound double-double from Moore, 13 points and seven rebounds from Kyreese, and 12 points from Malik powered the Mavs to victory.
The Mavs took an early 11-7 lead, but the Beavers kept it close, even taking a 15-14 lead with 13 minutes left in the half. The Beavers’ bench was playing well in this one, accounting for 13 of their first 20 points.
The lead traded hands several times throughout the rest of the first half, but the Mavs pulled ahead 34-30 heading into halftime, led by Moore’s seven points, and Stuttley’s six.
Just as the Mavs thought they could pull away, the Beavers were able to jump out to a 10-point lead three minutes into the half. Like the night before, the Mavs fought back and were able to cut the Beaver lead to three in the same amount of time.
The Beavers held a lead until 4:31 remained in the second half, where Malik Willingham hit a three to put the Mavs up one, 62-61. In the next three minutes, the teams fought hard, until they were knotted at 64 with 1:30 left in the game. Mueller and Stuttley added layups that increased the Maverick lead to four points, until Trevor Moore knocked down two free throws to put the game away and secure a Mavs win.
After splitting on the weekend, the Mavs look forward to another weekend at home, where they will face Southwest Minnesota State and Sioux Falls in the Taylor Center on Friday and Saturday night.
Write to Hayden Lee at Hayden.Lee@mysmsu.edu
Header photo: MSU Men’s Basketball team loses 69-67 Friday, Jan. 27 against UMary but bounces back with a 70-66 win against Minot State Saturday, Jan. (Dylan Engel)