The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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March 21, 2013

Courrier column: Season’s end was a gem

Having had some time to reflect on the Central Region men’s basketball championship game from Tuesday, which Winona State won 76-73 in overtime, a few thoughts have come to mind.

Wow! What a great game.

Winona State is a very good team. So is Minnesota State. The teams were about as evenly matched as possible coming into the game, and the results proved that point.

Winona State had a couple of banked 3-pointers at the end of shot clocks that some people call lucky. If you don’t take the shot, it can’t go in. You need a couple of breaks to win games like that, and Winona State made those breaks.

Minnesota State didn’t fully take advantage of the foul differential. The Mavericks were 26 of 36 at the free-throw line, while Winona State was 12 of 17. If Minnesota State makes a couple more free throws, they’re preparing to play at Louisville. The same could bee said about 3 of 14 shooting from 3-point range.

It seemed like Minnesota State was the better rebounding team, though the difference was only plus-1. However, the Mavericks’ 13 offensive rebounds only turned into 16 second-chance points.

At the end of regulation, the Mavericks had a pretty good possession that ended with a good defensive play by Winona State. A the end of overtime, searching for the tying 3, the Mavericks didn’t execute very well.

There are a lot of talented players returning to the team next season, though the lone senior Jarvis Williams, won’t be back. He was the go-to guy at the end of games, a tough matchup because his length, quickness and athleticism and the team’s best on-ball defender.

It’s not automatic that the Mavericks will be back in this position next year, though they will enter the season as a favorite in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, along with Augustana.

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