#3 Mavs string together 14th straight win

As the No. 3 ranked Mavs headed into winter break, they were coming off of their closest margin of victory yet this season: a 100-96 win over Minnesota-Duluth in overtime.

Their nail-biting victory may have given other teams, players or fans hope that they could take down the Mavs, but they are unbeatable, at least for another week. 

As the teams took the court, one had expectations of dominance, and the other was the visiting Northern State Wolves. The Wolves had aspirations of becoming the first team to take down the (then) 13-0 Minnesota State men’s basketball team. Through the first 10 minutes, the Wolves seemed to have a fighting chance, hanging in the game and taking a 19-16 lead. 

It was here where this year’s new additions Elijah Hazekamp and Justin Eagins made their mark, fueling an 11-6 run to wrestle the lead away from the Wolves, 27-25. As the game neared halftime, the Wolves got a jolt of energy, retaking the lead, but Kyreese Willingham would score 10 points down the stretch before the halfway mark to ensure the Mavs went into the locker room with a 43-36 lead. 

“The first half was kind of sluggish, we’re just getting back, we had a couple of weeks off, but we didn’t mean to come out slow, you know it just happens and it’s a part of the game,” said Malik Willingham. “We had a lot of turnovers, missed open shots and they were making tough shots.”

Eagins, Kyreese Willingham and Hazekamp led the Mavs in scoring at the half, each scoring in double figures as the team shot over 53% as a unit. Considering the Wolves were shooting an abysmal 34.2% from the field as a team in the first half, it was only a matter of time before the Mavs’ talent and efficiency helped them pull away in the second half.

Malik Willingham ensured that it happened early on in the second half, scoring eight points, including two three’s to boost the Maverick lead to double-digits, 55-42. Willngham’s hot second-half start gave the team all of the momentum needed to coast to an 81-66 victory in their first game of the new calendar year. 

“(The) second half we came out, limited our turnovers, got stops on the defensive floor and ran with that. We started hitting shots and just having fun, playing how we play,” Willingham said. 

Hazekamp matched his season high of 20 points to lead the Mavs in scoring, as his near-limitless range continues to prove  valuable. Malik and Kyreese Willingham combined for 30 points, and Justin Eagins added six assists to go along with 13 points. 

The Mavs are now on a 14-game win streak on the season and a 10-game winning streak at home, dating back to February 2023. Now after their opening game of 2024 was played in the Taylor Center, the Mavs will take their undefeated show on the road for the next four games, beginning with Bemidji State 5:30 p.m. Friday.

Header Photo: #3 Minnesota State did not miss a step in its return from winter break as the Mavericks bested Northern State 81-66 at Taylor Center. (Photo courtesy Maverick Athletics)

Write to Hayden Lee at

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