By Reece Hemmesch
Special to The Free Press
Senior Gage Wooten finished with a season-high 25 points while junior Zach Monaghan tallied 21 as the MSU men’s basketball team fired on all cylinders Friday night, defeating the St. Cloud State Huskies 97-77 in its first action of 2014.
Wooten ended the evening hitting 11 of 12 shots from the field, including 3 of 4 behind the arc to fuel the win. All totaled, five Mavericks reach double digits in scoring. MSU shot 55.9 percent from the field, including 12 of 20 from 3-point range.
Wooten has now been the Mavericks’ leading scorer in their last two games as he finished with 23 against Concordia St. Paul in MSU’s last contest before the winter break.
“I thought we played awfully well,” head coach Matt Margenthaler said after the win. “St. Cloud really came out with a purpose early, they shot the ball well but we weathered that storm.”
Wooten agreed: “St. Cloud actually came out pretty strong in the first half but we came out good on the defensive end in the second half to get the win.”
Monaghan scored MSU’s balanced scoring was a big difference.
‘“When you got Gage Wooten on one side, Tanner Adler on the other side, Assem (Marei) down low and Connor (O’Brien) finding the open spot, it’s so hard to pick your poison against us,” he said. “We got really good shots and moved the ball well. When we’re unselfish we’re really tough to beat.”
Monaghan’s 20-point performance came as he sunk five of six 3’s and delivered nine assists. Marei’s inside play was also overpowering as SCSU had no answer in height for him. He ended with 17 on the night and seven rebounds.
Junior Mike Busack finished with 13, going 4 of 5 from downtown. The senior O’Brien ended up with 11 points and seven rebounds.