MSU men's basketball

Minnesota State guard Jadee Jones slides past St. Mary’s Lukas Holland for a layup in Saturday’s 91-57 victory at Bresnan Arena.

Matt Johnston
The Free Press, Mankato, MN

By Chad Courrier

Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — The veterans have scored like they should, the freshman have bolstered the bench.

One-third of the regular season is now complete, and with Saturday’s 91-57 nonconference victory over St. Mary’s at Bresnan Arena, the Mavericks are 7-2.

“We’re continuing to grow,” coach Matt Margenthaler said. “Guys are getting more confident, the freshman are giving us a spark. This has been a good week, with finals coming up, the schedule has worked out just fine.”

Minnesota State used its fourth starting lineup this season, trying to find the right combination and take advantage of opponents’ matchups. Only center Atila Santos has started all nine games as the Mavericks have used a smaller lineup more than the taller group.

“I feel pretty good about this team,” Santos said. “We’re progressing with every practice and every game. It took some of the younger players a while to realize that you have to show up ready to play every game. We’re a young team, but everybody is stepping up.”

Transfer Jadee Jones, splitting time between the guard positions, has been the leading scorer in five games, averaging 17.3 points. He scored six straight points early in the first half Saturday as the Mavericks gained a 14-8 lead.

“Jadee knows when to turn it on,” Margenthaler said. “He’s one of the most intelligent players I’ve had in seven seasons here. It’s almost like we’re surprised when he misses a shot.”

Santos, who had an inconsistent first year at Minnesota State, has been more reliable, averaging 14.6 points and leading the team in rebounding six times, averaging 8.4 per game. He scored six post hoops in the final three minutes to put the Mavericks up 43-32 at halftime.

“Transfers generally play better the second season,” Margenthaler said. “He’s been more confident, scoring around the basket and rebounding, doing all the things that a veteran and captain of the team should do. He’s the key for us.”

The Mavericks shot 60.0 percent, the second straight game they shot 60.0 percent or better in the first half.

Minnesota State broke the game open with a 10-point run in the first three minutes of the second half.

Jake Morrow, who has struggled with perimeter shooting, missed all six 3-point attempts, but he scored 15 points by going inside the arc, including a baseline dunk that made it 67-45 at the 10-minute mark.

“We started Jake (at power forward) so he would be around the basket more,” Margenthaler said. “He still needs to stay off the 3-point line more, but once he gets his 3 to start falling, his game will open up.”

The Mavericks have played five games that have come down to the final minutes, winning three and losing late leads in the others. This wasn’t one of those games, as the lead was 30 or more for most of the final 10 minutes, but Margenthaler said his team has developed enough confidence to close out tough games.

“This is as good of a nonconference schedule as we’ve played,” Margenthaler said. “With the Tip-Off and the tournament in Colorado, we’ve played quality opponents.”

Santos finished with 19 points, making 8 of 11 shots, and 11 rebounds, his fourth double-double.

“I’m still not playing good enough,” Santos said. “Coach always says there’s no reason I can’t get 10 rebounds every game. I need to keep working on boxing out and attack the offensive rebounds. It’s all about confidence and staying focused. I just have to make sure I keep working hard.”

Jones scored 13, and Marcus Hill added 11. Minnesota State finished with a 42-28 rebounding advantage and set a school record with 12 blocked shots, four by Curt Greeley.

The Mavericks have a week off for finals, then resume the nonconference schedule on Saturday at Upper Iowa.

“We’ve played some good teams, and we’ve responded in a good way,” Santos said. “I think we’re making progress.”

Mavericks summary


Cormier 7-16 0-0 15, Josh Knights 4-8 0-0 11, Sweeney 0-3 0-0 0, Holland 1-6 0-0 2, Wright 3-10 3-4 11, Moses 0-1 0-0 0, Brad Knights 0-2 0-0 0, Phipps 1-1 0-0 2, Crews 0-1 0-0 0, Allen 1-5 0-0 3, Lear 1-4 0-0 3, Seifert 1-2 0-0 2, Connolly 0-0 0-1 0, Murphy 1-1 0-0 2, Burroughs 0-2 0-0 0, Nieman 0-1 0-0 0, Rohr 3-4 0-0 6. Totals: 23-67 3-5 57.


Jake Morrow 6-12 3-4 15, Santos 8-11 3-4 19, Jones 6-9 0-0 13, Whitaker 3-5 2-2 8, Clark 3-6 2-2 8, Hill 3-6 4-4 11, Gosson 3-4 0-0 6, Taylor Morrow 1-1 0-0 2, Drapcho 0-0 0-0 0, Swanson 0-0 2-2 2, Benson 1-3 0-0 2, Greeley 2-3 1-1 5. Totals: 36-60 17-19 91.

Halftime: Minnesota State 43, St. Mary’s 32. 3-point shooting: St. Mary’s 8-26 (Cormier 1-3, Josh Knights 3-6, Sweeney 0-1, Holland 0-3, Wright 2-4, Brad Knights 0-1, Allen 1-3, Lear 1-2, Burroughs 0-2, Rohr 0-1), Minnesota State 2-14 (Morrow 0-6, Jones 1-2, Clark 0-1, Nill 1-3, Benson 0-2). Rebounds: St. Mary’s 28 (Cormier 7), Minnesota State 42 (Santos 11). Assists: St. Mary’s 11 (Cormier 4), Minnesota State 16 (Clark 6). Steals: St. Mary’s 3 (Josh Knights, Wright, Murphy), Minnesota State 8 (Santos, Clark, Gosson 2). Turnovers: St. Mary’s 15, Minnesota State 9. Total fouls: St. Mary’s 16, Minnesota State 12. Fouled out: none.

Attendance: 721.

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