MANKATO, Minn. -- Northwest Missouri State picked up one of the biggest victories in program history on Sunday evening, knocking off host Minnesota State-Mankato 71-66 at the Taylor Center to advance to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Division II tournament.
The Bearcats will play Central Missouri on Tuesday at the Taylor Center with a trip to the NCAA Elite Eight on the line. Northwest improves to 24-8 while Minnesota State finishes the year at 30-5.
Senior DeShaun Cooper had a game-high 25 points on 9-for-20 shooting. He also tallied four assists, a steal and three rebounds. The MIAA Player of the Year also went 7-for-8 from the charity stripe. Freshman Zach Schneider had 13 points for Northwest, all coming in the first half on four 3-pointers.
Northwest shot 40.4 percent for the game, connecting on 21 of 52 attempts. After hitting 11 3-pointers on Saturday evening against Winona State, the Bearcats only four long-range makes came from Schneider, all in the first half of play. Northwest had 17 second-chance points and outscored the Mavericks’ bench 23-11.
The Bearcats lead by as many as 20 points in the first half but host Minnesota State was able to climb back into the game in the second half, eventually pulling to within one with 36 seconds left. But a pair of Bryston Williams free throws and a late layup from Cooper sealed the win for Northwest.
Cooper recorded his 11th consecutive game with double-digit point totals and his 12th performance this season of 20 points or more. MSU’s Zach Monaghan, who was the Central Region Player of the Year, finished with 16 points, as did Assem Marei who was also a first team All-Central Region selection.