By Chad Courrier
---- — MANKATO — A week ago, that basket looked pretty small.
The Minnesota State men's basketball team shot just 32.2 percent in a loss at Winona State, making only 19 of 59 shots. That included 4 of 22 from 3-point range, good for 18.2 percent, and the Mavericks made only 15 of 29 free throws.
That can't be the same team that showed up Saturday to play Minot State. Can't be.
"It's a confidence thing, a mental thing," Mavericks coach Matt Margenthaler said. "We're at home, and we've shot the ball pretty well at home. Tanner (Adler) shot lights out in the first half, and Zach (Monaghan) had his best game since he's been here. Zach has his hands in so much that we do offensively."
The Mavericks shot 56.9 percent, setting a program record with 17 3-pointers in 30 attempts, and hit 31 of 36 free throws to survive a scrappy Minot State team, winning 106-95 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men's basketball Saturday at Bresnan Arena. The Beavers shot 54.1 percent, including 64.3 percent in the second half, and made 14 of 27 from 3-point range.
"If we're fortunate enough to make the NCAA tournament, this is the type of game that should really help us," said Monaghan, who had career-highs of 31 points and 14 assists. "We realize that we're going to get everyone's best shot, and I thought we handled adversity really well tonight."
The Mavericks made 10 3-pointers in the first half, with Adler getting things started. He hit three straight to put Minnesota State on top 26-15, and Romashko hit consecutive 3-pointers later in the half that made it 36-25.
Adler's fourth 3-pointer pushed the lead to 41-27, and he had another before halftime, helping the Mavericks take a 52-41 lead.
"It's fun to see your teammates make shots," said Monaghan, who had nine assists in the first half. "I was happy to see Tanner shoot it like that. That was special."
The Mavericks made 15 of the first 21 3-point attempts but then started to skip the post pass or dribble penetration in favor of jump shots. A couple of misses allowed Minot State to pull within 74-73 with nine minutes to play.
"We started living at the 3-point line," Margenthaler said. "When we start settling for jump shots, we're not as good."
However, Monaghan, Gage Wooten and Adler hit 3-pointers as Minnesota State went back up at 87-77. The Mavericks made 15 of 18 free throws in the final six minutes to prevail.
"(Minot State) played as good as they could, and I'm glad we had to grind one out at the end," Margenthaler said. "It was good for our team."
Adler ended up with 21 points, and Assem Marei had 18 points and seven rebounds. Wooten scored 11.
Minnesota State improves to 19-4 overall and 13-3 in the Northern Sun.