SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Early in the game, Gage Wooten was fouled hard by an Augustana player, and Wooten didn't care for it.
Wooten said as much to the defender, which got him a little fired up.
"He talked back to me," Wooten said. "I let my game do the talking."
Wooten scored a career-high 32 points as as Minnesota State defeated Augustana 78-63 in the quarterfinals of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men's basketball tournament Saturday at The Pentagon.
"He carried us tonight," Minnesota State coach Matt Margenthaler said. "That's what seniors need to do. We'll advance this weekend and in the NCAA tournament because our seniors step up. He was tremendous for 40 minutes tonight."
Wooten helped the Mavericks get off to a good start, hitting a 3-pointer and scoring seven points to build a 13-6 lead after 6 minutes. The Mavericks built the lead to 10 a couple minutes later on Assem Marei's reverse layup, but Augustana was able to get the margin closed to 5 at the 9-minute mark.
Zach Monaghan, the Northern Sun player of the year, had a couple of baskets to spark an 11-2 run that pushed the lead to 33-19, but after two 3-pointers by Augustana, Wooten hit from the corner top rebuild a double-digit advantage.
Wooten, who ranks second in the Northern Sun in field-goal percentage at 61.0 percent, finished the half with 19 points, making 8 of 10 shots, including all three 3-pointers, as the Mavericks led 43-28.
"I couldn't ask for any better first half," Margenthaler said. "The focus and intensity was as good as it's been all season, on both ends. The guys played with maturity, which I hope we can maintain."
The Mavericks were sloppy in the first 5 minutes of the second half, with some turnovers, missed shots and poor defensive rebounding, but Alex Hanks' 3-pointer quieted a partisan crowd and Marei's tip-in restored a 52-41 lead with 14 minutes to play.