MANKATO — Tanner Adler came to Minnesota State for just this type of event.
After using his first three seasons of eligibility elsewhere, Adler transferred to Minnesota State for his senior season, hoping to have one last run at a national championship.
"I knew this was a great program, and they needed a guard," he said. "This is an awesome opportunity. I made a great decision."
Adler had 24 points, making six 3-pointers, as Minnesota State defeated Harding 97-56 in the quarterfinals of the NCAA II Central Region men's basketball tournament Saturday at Bresnan Arena. Adler wasn't the only player hitting from deep as the Mavericks made 17 of 28 from 3-point range, tying a single-game program record and setting a single-season program record with 293.
"We knew they didn't have the length inside so we wanted to take advantage of that," junior point guard Zach Monaghan said. "That spread it out for the rest of the guys. Collectively, it was a great team win."
The Mavericks were near perfect in the first half, jumping ahead 28-9 after 10 minutes. The Mavericks made 16 of their first 23 shots, including 6 of 9 on 3-point attempts.
Harding struggled to match the Mavericks' efficiency in the halfcourt, as consecutive 3-pointers by Gage Wooten, Adler and Zach Romashko made it 41-14 with five minutes until halftime.
The Mavericks ended up at 67.7 percent shooting, with 8 of 13 from 3-point range, to lead 51-24 at halftime, scoring 50 points or more in a half for the eighth time this season.
"I thought we had great flow tonight," coach Matt Margenthaler said. "We came out of the gates extremely well. Everybody's going to talk about our shooting, but we really defended well. We contested a lot of shots."
The second half was much the same as the Mavericks never allowed Harding to get going. Only once in the game did Harding score three consecutive baskets without an answer from Minnesota State.