The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 18, 2013

College basketball notebook: Coach feeling better about Mavericks' toughness

By Chad Courrier ccourrier@mankatofreepress.com
The Mankato Free Press

---- — 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.

Junior forward Lucas Brown is doubtful for Saturday’s game because of a thigh injury suffered during the trip to California in early November. Margenthaler said that Brown is considering sitting out the rest of the season and applying for a medical redshirt.

Minnesota State women: The Mavericks (6-3, 3-2) lost both games on the road last week and face Concordia-St. Paul, which will be the fifth opponent this season that is ranked in the top 20 at the time. The Bears are rated No. 20, though Minnesota State won 87-63 at St. Paul three weeks ago.

“Our defense wasn’t very good (last weekend),” coach Emilee Thiesse said. “We had enough points to win both games.”

The Mavericks lost to No. 17 Wayne State 79-64 and No. 10 Augustana 86-82. Against Wayne State, the Mavericks allowed 49.0 percent shooting, were outrebounded by 1 and committed 25 fouls. Augustana shot only 39.3 percent by made 38 of 44 free throws, as the Mavericks were called for 35 fouls. Minnesota State was plus-2 in rebounding but gave up 13 offensive boards.

“Against Wayne, we didn’t have the competitive mentality,” Thiesse said. “Against Augustana, we put them at the line way too much. We want to pride ourselves on defense, but if you don’t play defense, you’re not to go on the road and win, especially at those two places.”

Thiesse said Saturday’s game is important to end the losing streak and take some momentum into the holiday break. It also would give the Mavericks a potentially important tiebreaker in the postseason.

“We want to protect our homecourt,” she said. “If you don’t bounce back and learn from lossess, you’re losing the benefit of that experience.”

Backup center McKenzie Hoelmenn is doubtful Saturday with a knee injury.

Gustavus Adolphus men: The Gusties (7-1, 4-0 in MIAC) are off until Dec. 31 when they host Wisconsin-La Crosse. Gustavus, which has won four straight, leads the MIAC by a half-game over St. Thomas. The Gusties are outrebunding opponents by 7.0 per game.

Jordan Dick leads the Gusties at 14.6 points per game, shooting 61.4 percent from the field, including 61.1 percent from 3-point range. Brody Ziegler is averaging 13.0 points and shooting 69.4 percent from the field. Sergio Najera has 34 rebounds, with 16 on the offensive end.

Gustavus Adolphus women: The Gusties (4-2, 1-2) have lost two straight and wrap up the pre-holiday schedule with a home game against Augsburg on Saturday afternoon.

Britta Rinke leads the team in scoring at 16.5 points per game. Julia Dysthe has a team-best 22 steals, while Karina Schroeder leads the team with 18 blocked shots. Dysthe has made 19 of 20 free throws.

Bethany Lutheran men: Senior Jacob Wensmann is the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference player of the week after putting up 42 points and 10 rebounds in a pair of games last week. He’s averaging 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds. Darin Haugh is averaging 10.8 points and 4.5 assists.

Bethany (1-7) and opponents have both made 100 free throws. Wensmann leads the team with 24 free throws and 31 attempts. The Vikings host Coe College tonight.

Bethany Lutheran women: The Vikings (1-6) have lost six straight heading into Friday’s game against Maranatha Baptist at Watertown, Wis. Bethany has been outscored by 23 points in the first half of games and 60 in the second half.

Jade Pelzl is averaging 15.0 points and has made 20 3-pointers, almost half of the team’s total. Kasslin Swenson is averaging 14.1 points and 8.6 rebounds, while Rudy Ruffin leads the team with 17 steals.