Another strong second half proved to be the difference again Saturday afternoon as the#17 Minnesota State Mavericks beat the Central Washington Wildcats 104-93.
With the win, MSU improves to 3-1 on the season. With the loss, CWU falls to 3-1.
The first half saw a close contest in which neither team led by more than seven points. The Mavericks built the largest lead of the first half with 11:46 to go in the half as they led 20-13. CWU managed to take the lead with just over six minutes to go in the half, but the Mavericks answered right back and eventually went up by six at 37-31 with 3:33 left in the opening stanza. The Wildcats then closed out the half outscoring the Mavericks 10-4 to knot up the score at 41-41 heading into the locker room.
Four Mavericks recorded at least seven points in the opening session, including senior Aarias Austin who led MSU with 10 points. Sophomore Joey Witthus added nine points and six rebounds in the first half as well, while junior Charlie Brown and senior AJ Patty each dropped in seven points.
As a team, MSU shot 50% (18-of-36) from the field in the first half. It also outrebounded the Wildcats 19-16.
Dom Hunter led the Wildcat offense in the first half with 10 points. As a team, Central Washington shot 44.1% from the field in the first half.
The lead changed hands a couple of times early on in the second half but the Mavericks took the lead for good at 56-55 with 13:25 to go after a fast-break layup from Austin. After falling behind 72-64 with 8:28 to go, the Wildcats managed to get back within a score at 80-78 with five minutes to go, but the Mavericks would go on to outscore the Wildcats 24-15 down the stretch to lock down the 104-93 win.
Minnesota State saw three players eclipse the 20-point plateau including Austin, Brown and Witthus. Brown notched a team-leading 24 points, while both Austin and Witthus tallied 22 points. Witthus also hauled in a team-leading 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. Patty finished just one rebound shy of a double-double as he tallied 15 points and nine rebounds.
As a team, MSU shot 56.1% from the field, to go along with a 12-of-25 (.480) showing from behind the arc. The Mavericks also boasted a 40-31 advantage in rebounds.
Hunter the Wildcats with a game-high 27 points, while Jawan Stepney added 15 points and five rebounds. As a team, CWU shot 47.9% from the field and 82.4% from the line.
The Mavericks continue their season on the road on Saturday, Nov. 26, as they take on the St. Cloud State Huskies in a nonconference game. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.