The No. 25 Northern State University men’s basketball team defeated Southwest Minnesota State 72-68, en-route to their second straight NSIC/Sanford Health Basketball Tournament Championship. The Wolves defeated the Mustangs for the second straight year in the title match, improving to 26-6 overall this season.
The title is the fourth NSIC Tournament crown for the Wolves in program history. In addition to the championship, Ian Smith was named the tournament MVP, while Mason Stark and Gabe King were honored on the all-tournament team.
Despite a closely contested game, the Northern State men lead for all 40 minutes of action. The Mustangs did out-score the Wolves 39-34 in the second half, however a 9-point first half lead held for NSU. The Wolves out-shot and out-rebounded the Mustangs, with 38 rebounds to SMSU’s 25 and a 52.7 field goal percentage.
Northern combined for 14 assists, four blocks, four 3-pointers, and two steals. They tallied 46 points in the paint, 24 points off the bench, 11 points off 11 offensive boards, five points off turnovers, and five fast break points. Defensively, NSU forced six turnovers and held SMSU to 43.5 percent from the floor and 25.0 percent from the 3-point line.
Smith led three Wolves in double figures with 14 points, hitting 7-of-12 from the floor. The senior added a team leading three blocks, as well as three assists and two rebounds. Gabe King was just one point shy of Smith’s total with 13 in the game. He shot 62.5 percent from the floor, and led the team with four assists.
Mason Stark notched a bench high ten points, and was the final Wolf in double figures. He added three rebounds and two assists in the win. Parker Fox and Jordan Belka rounded out the bench total with nine and five points respectively. Fox was one of four Wolves to record a team leading five rebounds, as well as one block and one steal.
Andrew Kallman, Cole Dahl, and Justin Decker each recorded seven points and five rebounds in the win. Kallman added two assists, and one steal, while Dahl notched one assist and shot 50.0 percent from the floor. Decker was efficient offensively, shooting 75.0 percent and pulling down three offensive boards. The senior also tallied three assists.
The Wolves earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Central Region Tournament. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Selection Show is set to air on NCAA.com at 9:30 p.m. (CT) on Sunday, March 10. Northern State will host a selection show party, with location and further information to be released later this week.
Courtesy: Northern State