MARSHALL - No. 17 Minnesota State captured the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championship outright with a hard-fought 78-66 victory over Southwest Minnesota State on Saturday at the R/A Facility.
The Mavericks (25-4, 19-3 NSIC) entered the night tied atop the standings with Winona State, but the Warriors lost at home to Augustana. MSU is ranked No. 2 in the NCAA Central Region, while SMSU (17-11, 14-8 NSIC) is ranked No. 9 in the region.
The Mustangs begin play in the first round of the NSIC/Sanford Health Tournament on Wednesday as the No. 3 seed in the NSIC South Division and will host the University of Mary, the No. 6 seed from the NSIC North, starting at 7 p.m. U-Mary defeated SMSU 74-65 in Bismarck, N.D., on Feb. 14.
Submitted Photo by SMSU Athletic Communications
Southwest Minnesota State's Will Giddings attempts to drive past a Minnesota State defender during a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference game Saturday at the R/A Facility.
Minnesota State is the No. 1 seed in the South and will host No. 8 North seed Minnesota-Crookston.
Tanner Adler led the Mavericks with a game-high 22 points on 9 of 15 shooting with four 3-pointers, while Assem Marei added 16 points and six rebounds. Zach Monaghan also had strong game for MSU with 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
SMSU had four players score in double figures with William Giddings leading the way with 17 points and Vinard Birch adding 14 points, five assists and two steals. Shaun Condon (13) and Matt Zager (10) also both finished in double figures.
The Mustangs shot 44 percent (25 of 57) from the field, but were just 7 of 24 from 3-point range and 9 of 16 from the free-throw line. The Mavericks ended the game shooting 50 percent (28 of 56) and held a 38-29 rebound advantage.
Minnesota State jumped out to an early 13-6 lead in the first 5 minutes and never trailed in the opening half.
SMSU cut the deficit to three points on five different occasions, including 22-19 at the 6:40 mark following a layup by Giddings. Minnesota State answered with seven straight points in the next two minutes to build a 29-19 advantage.
The Mustangs rallied back and trimmed the Mavericks' lead to 29-23 with 3 minutes left following a Birch jumper, but Minnesota State came back with a 10-3 run to take its largest lead of the half at 39-26, before settling for a 39-29 halftime lead.
SMSU shot 42 percent (11 of 26) in the opening half, while MSU shot 50 percent (16 of 32) and held a 19-12 rebound advantage. Adler led the Mavericks with 13 points, while Giddings paced the Mustangs in the opening half with 11 points.
The Mavericks maintained a double-digit lead for most of the second half, building a 14-point lead at 63-49 with 10 minutes left in the game.
Minnesota State pushed the lead to 64-52 with 7:26 left before the Mustangs made a late push and trimmed the deficit to 69-63 with 3:19 remaining after a layup by Birch. Following a timeout, MSU crushed SMSU's comeback hopes as Adler connected on a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 72-63 and seal the victory.
The Mavericks have now defeated the Mustangs four straight times in the last two seasons.
MINNESOTA STATE 78, SMSU 66
MINNESOTA STATE (25-4 OVERALL, 19-3 NSIC): Alex Hanks 0-1 0-0 0, Zach Monaghan 5-8 3-4 15, Tanner Adler 9-15 0-0 22, Gage Wooten 5-9 2-2 13, Zach Romashko 0-5 0-0 0, Connor O'Brien 2-5 5-7 9, TJ Okafor 1-3 1-2 3, Assem Marei 6-10 4-8 16. TOTALS: 28-56 (50%) 15-23 (65%) 78
SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA STATE (17-11 OVERALL, 14-8 NSIC): William Giddings 6-10 3-5 17, Vinard Birch 6-12 3-5 14, Mitch Weg 1-3 0-2 2, Shaun Condon 4-9 2-2 13, Joey Bartlett 1-7 1-2 4, Matt Zager 4-8 1-2 10, Cole Martin 1-2 0-0 2, Nick Smith 2-6 0-0 4. TOTALS: 25-57 (44%) 9-16 (56%) 66.
HALFTIME: Minnesota State 39, Southwest Minnesota State 29. 3-POINT FIELD GOALS: Minnesota State 7-21 (Adler 4, Monaghan 2, Wooten 1); Southwest Minnesota State 7-24 (Condon 3, Giddings 2, Zager, Bartlett). REBOUNDS: Minnesota State 38 (Wooten, O'Brien 8); Southwest Minnesota State 29 (Smith 7). TOTAL FOULS (FOULED OUT): Minnesota State 11 (none); Southwest Minnesota State 18 (Weg). TECHNICAL FOULS: None. ASSISTS: Minnesota State 16 (Monaghan 7); Southwest Minnesota State 11 (Birch 5). STEALS: Minnesota State 11 (Marei 4); Southwest Minnesota State 6 (Birch, Bartlett 2). BLOCKED SHOTS: Minnesota State 4 (Marei 3); Southwest Minnesota State 1 (Smith). TURNOVERS: Minnesota State 10; Southwest Minnesota State 12.