It appears that spring has sprung upon the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato as the Mavericks wrap up the winter sports seasons. It's a slow weekend for Maverick sports fans as Mav men's puck wraps up the regular season against St. Cloud State for the only home event of the weekend Friday. The Mavs will then head to St. Cloud Saturday. Tennis, baseball and softball are in full swing staying warm in Florida for the weekend.
Recently in basketball, the men and women both lost their first games of the NSIC championship. It was the first-seeded men with the more stunning loss, falling 80-78 to the eighth-seeded Southwest Minnesota State University Mustangs at home Wednesday in the first round of the NSIC Championship Wednesday. The Mustangs shot a blistering 61 percent from the field compared to the Mavs 49.1 percent success rate. SMSU out-rebounded MSU 34-21 in the contest.
The nail-biter came down to the last moments as the Mavs went for a last effort run but fell short when SMSU blocked an attempted MSU dunk that would have sent the game into overtime. Senior center Travis Nelson lead MSU with 18 points and junior guard Cameron Hodges scored a season-high 17 points by hitting five three pointers, doubling his three-point success on the year. Men's hoops await their post-season fate which will be determined by Sunday night competition of other teams.
MSU women's basketball ended their season 15-13 overall and 10-10 NSIC with a 74-81 loss to the Concordia Golden Bears Wednesday night in St. Paul. The close battle entailed 16 lead changes and eight score ties. MSU drained 41.7 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from beyond the three-point line and out-rebounded Concordia 38-30 in the contest.
MSU women's hockey also ended their season with two losses at Minnesota in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. The high-scoring contest Friday ended with 13 total goals, five to the Mavs and eight to the Gophers. The battle started with two Gopher goals and the first period ended with a 3-1 score favoring the Gophers. The Mavs outscored the Gophers 4-2 in the second period to even up the score at 5 a side. Three Gopher goals in the third sealed the deal on the Friday night contest. MSU goaltenders Alli Altmann and Paige Thunder each had 12 saves in the game. MSU outshot Minnesota 33-32 in the contest.
Saturday night was another epic battle as the Mavs drew the first blood this time with a goal from senior forward Jenna Hewitt. Sophomore forward Moira O'Connor scored twice for the Mavs as the team headed into overtime tied at three a side. The teams played over 100 minutes of hockey until Minnesota scored just 1:16 into the third overtime. The Mavs outshot the Gophers 44-41 on the night. Altmann played the whole game, logging over 100 minutes of play and 37 saves. The game breaker was the power play. MSU went zero for five on power play opportunities with only two shots as Minnesota shot 12 times and scored twice on six chances. MSU women's puck ended the season 7-22-5 overall and 5-18-5 WCHA.
Mav men's hockey played very well against the number one ranked Denver Pioneers last weekend but fell short by scores of 1-3 Friday and 3-4 in an overtime loss Saturday. On Friday senior forward Zach Harrison scored the lone Maverick goal in the second period to send the Mavs into the third period tied at one. Denver put two goals past freshman goalie Phil Cook in the third to seal the deal. MSU outshot DU 29-20 in the contest but Denver's strong powerplay capitalized on two of four chances as MSU failed to score on all four opportunities.
Saturday night was even tighter and much scrappier game as the Mavs lost 3-4 in overtime. Freshman forward Tyler Pitlick scored the first and last goals of the game for the Mavs. After Pitlick's first goal, Denver responded with three unanswered goals, one of which came right at the buzzer at the end of the first. The Mavs outshot the Pioneers 39-36 on the evening but were only able to capitalize on one of nine power play chances as Pioneers scored twice on only six power play opportunities.
Mav men's puck ends the regular season this weekend against number three in the WCHA standings, St. Cloud with a home game Friday and a game in St. Cloud Saturday. MSU sits in ninth place in the WCHA only one spot behind Alaska Anchorage. Wins this weekend could put MSU in front of Anchorage and in a better spot entering the WCHA playoffs. This weekend will be a large determiner for many teams as most teams are within a few points of each other. Cook will likely start in goal Friday night for the Mavs and adjustments will be made depending on his play. Look for at least a split this weekend.
MSU Maverick sports schedule in order of occurrence. Home games are in bold.
Friday, Mar. 5:
- Men's hockey vs. St. Cloud State at 7:37 p.m.
Saturday, Mar. 6:
- Softball vs. Shippensburg in Kissimmee, Fla. at 9 a.m. (EST)
- Softball vs. Georgian Court in Kissimmee, Fla. at 11 a.m. (EST)
- Men's hockey at St. Cloud State at 7:07 p.m.
Sunday, Mar. 7:
- Women's tennis vs. University of Indianapolis in Orlando, Fla. Time TBA
- Men's tennis vs. University of Indianapolis in Orlando, Fla. Time TBA
- Softball vs. Sciences in Philadelphia in Kissimmee, Fla. at 9 a.m. (EST)
- Softball vs. Stonehill in Kissimmee, Fla. at 1 p.m. (EST)
- Baseball vs. Slippery Rock in Winter Haven, Fla at 3 p.m.
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