Coming off of their best win of the season, the Minnesota State men’s basketball team was promoted to the No. 2 spot in the latest coaches poll. This is the second time the Mavs have been ranked second this season. The first time came back on Jan. 9. West Texas A&M has claimed the No. 1 spot for the time being, after receiving 15 of the first place votes. MSU received one.
However, on the same day they were moved up to No. 2, the Mavericks had a road game to play in Duluth. In this game, the UMD Bulldogs were able to take advantage of a team coming off of an emotional win, and handed them their second road loss of the season.
“It’s tough to win games in this league,” head coach Matt Margenthaler said. “We need to refocus and be ready for more tough road games this weekend.”
The first half was tightly contested, as neither team gained a substantial advantage and the lead changed hands 14 times. The teams were deadlocked at 23 midway through the first half, and entered the locker room tied at 43.
Justin Eagins continued to build off of his performance over the weekend, leading the Mavericks in scoring at the half with 11. Kyreese Willingham added 10 points and four rebounds. In the first half, the Mavs shot 54% from the field and 40% from three , compared to the 47% field goal percentage and 40% three-point percentage from the Bulldogs.
In the second half, the Bulldogs came out hot. In the first five minutes theyput together a 14-2 run to extend their lead to 57-42. As the half continued, the Bulldogs eventually went up by 19 before an 8-0 Maverick run made the game closer.
Building on this run, the Mavericks pulled the game within five points with just over six minutes to go, but the Bulldogs weren’t going to let this one slip away. In the final six minutes of regulation, the Bulldogs outscored the Mavericks 14-4, which led to a final score of 85-70.
Malik and Kyreese Willingham combined for 33 points in the loss to go along with Eagins and Dylan Peeters scoring in double figures. The Mavericks shot 48% from the field and 29% from three-point range, as their streaky shooting proved to be the difference in this game. On defense, the Mavericks allowed three Bulldog players to combine for 59 points.
The Mavericks will have two more games this week, as they look forward to road rematches against Southwest Minnesota State and Sioux Falls, both of which they defeated earlier this season. First up is SMSU at 7:30 p.m. Friday, at 7:30 p.m., and Sioux Falls at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Header Photo: Minnesota State is one of three NSIC teams ranked in the top-25, along with no. 12 MSU Moorhead and no. 19 Minot State. (Courtesy Maverick Athletics)
Write to Hayden Lee at email@example.com