The Minnesota State men’s basketball team scored the first seven points of Friday’s game, and then came the injury.
Junior center Assem Marei tried to block a shot, and when he landed, his left ankle buckled. After Marei was helped off the court by a trainer and coach Matt Margenthaler, more was missing than the starting center.
“That’s our worst nightmare,” Margenthaler said. “We were off to a great start; in our four games, we’ve had four great starts. Then Assem goes down, and I think the guys on the floor were kind of shocked. It took us a while to get going again, but the one thing I was impressed with tonight is that we never showed mental weakness the entire game. That’s something we’ve been working on.”
Minnesota State outscored Waldorf 60-24 in the second half and rolled to a 94-50 nonconference victory at Bresnan Arena. While the first half was choppy, with missed shots and turnovers, the second half was a basketball display of assists and 3-pointers.
“They were sagging off in the first half, and it took us a while to adapt,” junior guard Zach Monaghan said. “But we know what we have. In the second half, we moved the ball well and shared the ball. When we do that, we’re pretty tough to beat.”
Marei spent the rest of the game on the bench, a towel draped over his head, with his leg resting on a chair, and he left the gym on crutches. Margenthaler said that Marei will miss the remaining nonconference games, and he’s hoping to have the center back for the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference opener Nov. 30 at Concordia-St. Paul.
The Mavericks’ offense struggled without Marei,and Connor O’Brien on the bench with two fouls, allowing Waldorf to go up 14-7 after five minutes. The Mavericks started settling for perimeter shots, making only 2 of 16 from 3-point range.