MANKATO — A week ago, Minnesota State men’s basketball coach Matt Margenthaler was questioning his team’s toughness and hustle following a home loss to Winona State.
After sweeping games at Wayne State and Augustana, Margenthaler feels better about his team.
“We had more consistent effort both nights,” he said. “Especially on the defensive end. Our offense comes from our defense.”
The Mavericks (10-2, 4-1 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) downed Wayne State 86-55 on Friday, then showed some grit in an 86-81 victory against Augustana. Minnesota State had a double-digit lead early in the second half, but the Vikings rallied to lead 72-70 with six minutes to play.
However, the Mavericks quickly regained the lead and held on.
Gage Wooten scored 21 points in the victory, while point guard Zach Monaghan totaled 23 points and 14 assists on the weekend. The Mavericks shot 50.0 percent for the two games, making 20 of 44 from 3-point range. Minnesota State had the rebounding advantage both nights.
“We needed that win (against Augustana), especially on the road,” Margenthaler said. “It was a huge confidence-builder for our team. They’re starting to see that if we get better defensively and get stops, we can get out and run and have fun.”
As expected, senior Alex Hanks will miss the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his knee. He received the results of an MRI on Tuesday, which revealed a partial tear. Hanks, who was injured during the first half of a home game against Upper Iowa on Dec. 6, could return in 6-8 weeks.
“It’s a tough loss because he brings so much toughness and grit,” Margenthaler said. “We miss his leadership on the floor, and our rotations have changed a little.”
Senior Tanner Adler will continue in Hanks’ starting spot. Point guard Jaymeson Moten received a cortisone shot in his back and is expected to play Saturday.