March 14, 2009

*Courtesy of Minnesota State Mankato Athletics

Marshall, Minn. - Minnesota State opened the first-round of the 2009 NCAA Central Region Tournament with a 81-67 victory over Fort Lewis Saturday evening. The Mavericks entered the eight-team event as the #4 seed, while Fort Lewis was the #5 seed. The win improved Minnesota State's record to 26-8 on the season, while Fort Lewis falls to 24-10.

With the victory, Minnesota State (now advances to Sunday evening's regional semifinal game against top-seeded and host institution, Southwest Minnesota State at 7:30 p.m.

"I thought that over the past couple of weeks we have been playing really well," said head coach Matt Margenthaler. "We continued it into tonight. Our energy on the defensive end was great. This place (the R/A Facility) will be rocking tomorrow night and it should be a great game."

The Mavericks raced to a 45-35 advantage at the half thanks in part to a 6-of-11 performance from beyond the three-point line. Seniors Jadee Jones and Jake Morrow each drilled three long-range shots in the first half to pace the Maverick offense with 15 and 14 points respectively. The Mavericks, which shot 41.7 percent in the first half from the floor and 54.5 percent from downtown, owned a 25-15 advantage on the glass, including a 13-4 edge on the offensive end, resulting in 15 second chance points.

"The key for us is getting the ball early to Travis (Nelson)," said Morrow. "Once they double down, it really opens things up for us on the perimeter."

The Mavericks continued its defensive pressure in the second half as it maintained a double-digit lead.

Jones finished with 19 points on 7-of-10 of shooting, while Morrow finished with 21 points on 5-of-12. Morrow moved to fifth on the on the school's single-season three-point field goals made chart with four three-point field goals. Junior center Travis Nelson added eight points, while senior forward Mitch Gosson hauled in a team-high 10 rebounds.

Minnesota State finished the game shooting 43.5 percent from the floor, including 50 percent from beyond the three-point line. The Mavericks dominated on the glass, 47-35, including 20-12 on the offensive end.

The Mavericks outscored FLC, 15-2 on points off turnovers and 17-2 in transition.

Minnesota State is now 7-6 all-time in the NCAA tournament while Margenthaler is 11-10 in the post-season and 5-4 in the NCAA tournament.