The Free Press, Mankato, MN


January 26, 2013

Minnesota State men fall in overtime

MANKATO — Cameron McCaffrey’s floating 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left in overtime allowed Augustana to snap Minnesota State’s 10-game winning streak with a 82-79 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men’s basketball victory Saturday at Bresnan Arena .

McCaffrey, the Northern Sun’s leading scorer, fired in 23 of his game-high 25 points over the final 25 minutes to enable the Vikings to hold off an impressive second-half comeback by Minnesota State. The Mavericks (16-2, 12-2 in Northern Sun) trailed 35-25 at the break after connecting on just 29.4 percent (10 of 34) from the field and being outrebounded 21-17.

“Games with Augustana are always physical, and I felt at times we backed down from it,” Minnesota State junior forward Connor O’Brien said. “We kind of let it hit us in the mouth before we started to step up and play. They were hungry and seemed to want it a lot more than we did tonight. When you face adversity time and time again, and you respond, you feel it’s easy.

“This was a good team we faced, and we fell just short. We learned maybe we’re not as good as we think we are. There’s still a long way to go, and we still have a chance to do everything we want to do this season.”

Augustana (14-4, 10-4) led a majority of the first half, opening up a 35-22 lead when Alex Richter hit two free throws with 1:17 to go to close out a 10-0 run. Yuriy Malashenko, a 6-foot-6 junior forward from Jordan, nailed a 3-pointer and 12-foot turnaround in the surge before the Mavericks’ Zach Monaghan drilled a top-of-the-key triple to end the half.

“I thought we came out very passive in the first half and for some reason got winded early,” Minnesota State coach Matt Margenthaler said. “Maybe our guys thought it was a bigger game than it really was. I challenged our guys at halftime that win, lose or draw we were going to find out something about this baskeball team, and we did. We found out these guys will continue to compete and put themselves in a position to win.”

Minnesota State, which committed only four turnovers in the contest, scored the first seven points — layups from Assem Marei and Monaghan along with Gage Wooten’s left-side 3-pointer — of the second half and eventually took a 57-54 lead on junior guard Jimmy Whitehead’s twisting fastbreak layup with 9:44 remaining.

McCaffrey and O’Brien then traded three-point plays before McCaffrey’s 3-pointer and slicing drive to the basket helped the Vikings regain the lead at 70-66 with 3:07 left in regulation. O’Brien, who finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, nailed an 18-footer, and senior guard Jarvis Williams converted a layup off an assist from Monaghan to tie things at 70.

McCaffery’s driving hoop put the Vikings in front before Williams kissed a soft banker off the glass with 41 seconds to go. Williams missed a chance at a three-point play, and McCaffery failed on a off-balance 17-footer to send the game into an extra session.

Williams tallied 16 points, seven rebounds and two assists for the Mavericks, who connected on 31 of 76 for 40.8 percent.

Monaghan’s 3-pointer from the top of the circle and Williams’ baseline drive off Monaghan’s ninth and final assist of the game staked the Mavericks to a 77-72 advantage two minutes into overtime. However, the Vikings answered with a seven-point spurt before Marei’s two foul shots evened things with 29.7 seconds showing.

McCaffery then went one-on-one to create a right-side 3, which swished through and set up Williams’ desperation half-court miss at the buzzer.

“We wanted to trap him off the ball screen, and they did a re-screen that we weren’t ready for,” Monaghan said of the game-winner. “We didn’t defend well all game and personally I didn’t do a good job on McCaffery at all. This should bring us down to earth and now we can have a good week of practice and get two on the road next week.

“As a team we got away from the things that helped us win 16 games. We didn’t move in the first half, we didn’t share the ball, and it came back to bite us.”

Sophomore forward Zach Romaschko came off the bench to connect on three 3-pointers and score 11 points for the Mavericks.

Alex Richter scored 15 points and grabbed six boards for the Vikings, who made 34 of 62 from the field for 54.8 percent. Daniel Jansen and Malashenko chipped in 13 points apiece for Augustana.

Minnesota State plays at Mary on Friday.

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