Men’s basketball remains at no. 5 heading into final road contest

A few days removed from their two home victories last weekend, the Mavs held their no. 5 ranking in the National Association of Basketball Coaches Poll.

The Mavericks continue to be the choice of the NSIC, while three other teams join them in the top-25 rankings. MSU Moorhead moved up this week, jumping up a spot to no. 8 after they beat no. 23 Minot State and UMary. Minot dropped eight spots after dropping both games last weekend. The final ranked team in the NSIC is UMD, who climb five spots in the newest poll, after close wins over SMSU and Sioux Falls. 

This weekend, the Mavs will travel to Aberdeen, S.D. for their final road game of the regular season. They will take on the Northern State Wolves. Earlier this season, the Mavs hosted the Wolves in the Taylor Center, where they would send the Wolves home howling after securing an 81-66 win. In that game, Elijah Hazekamp, Malik Willingham and Justin Eagins were a dynamic offensive trio, combining for 49 of their 81 points en route to taking the lead in the all-time series, 18-15. 

Despite leading the series, the Mavs are 2-8 in their last ten matchups with the Wolves. Saturday’s game will mark the 34th meeting between the two teams, dating back to 1970. In the first game played between these two teams, the Mavs were able to squeak out a highly contested overtime win by the score of 65-59.

Northern State will enter the weekend with a 10-14 record, with eight wins and 10 losses coming in NSIC play. They are coming off of a weekend in which they were triumphant over Minnesota Crookston at home and were defeated by Bemidji State on the road. The Wolves will have the luxury of playing at home, but it will take much more than home-court advantage to beat the Mavs. 

Two players that could help the Wolves’ case are Jacksen Moni and Josh Dilling. Moni is the bigger offensive threat of the two, averaging 21.4 points per game on the season, along with 8.3 rebounds per game. Dilling, on the other hand, averages a solid 18.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4 assists per game, and has taken on more of a point guard role. Augustin Reede is the team’s sniper. He leads the Wolves in three-pointers made, with 60 while averaging 11 points per game. 

As a team, the Mavs are averaging 87.8 points and 39.7 rebounds per game, while shooting 49.4% from the field and 37.2% from three-point range. The catalysts for this astounding offensive attack are none other than the Willingham brothers. Malik leads the team in scoring with 18.7 ppg, while still averaging over three rebounds and four assists per game. Kyreese is not far behind him with 14.2 points, but he averages 5.2 rebounds per game. 

Truth be told, the entire Mavs starting lineup has been playing great this season, and they certainly play better together. The other three members of the starting lineup each average over 10 points per game. Hazekamp makes his mark as a shooter, Eagins plays a shooting guard role, where he can also take over the offense and Dylan Peeters plays the role of the big guy who sets screens, rebounds and plays defense. 

Although this weekend’s game will show up on the Mavs’ final record, that may not matter as much anymore, as the team has secured a first-round bye in the upcoming NSIC Tournament. However, there still is work to be done on the way to the tournament, and no games can be taken for granted if they hope to end the year hoisting a trophy. 

Saturday’s game will begin at 6 p.m. in Wachs Arena, home of the Wolves.

Header Photo: MSU held its spot in the poll after it defeated Wayne State (79-63) and Augustana (89-81) last weekend at home. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)

Write to Hayden Lee at

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