Wildcat men split matchups with Minnesota State

The Wayne State men’s basketball team shot 60 percent from the floor to defeat Minnesota State 85-68 in the first of two games between the two teams Friday at Rice Auditorium.

The Mavericks managed a split of the weekend series, however, shooting 56 percent from the field and edging the Wildcats, 80-77.

In Friday’s matchup, Wayne State started the game making 13 of its first 16 shots and ended the game shooting 60 percent from the field.

The Wildcats scored the first 10 points of the game and never looked back.  Before the midway point of the opening half, Wayne State already raced out to a 25-4 lead and was in front 29-7 midway through the first half, making 13 of its first 16 shots from the field. Wayne State pushed the lead to 25 at 38-13 on a Justin Eagins 3-pointer with 3:24 left in the first half before closing the half with a 40-21 advantage.

The hot shooting continued for the Wildcats in the second half, never allowing the visiting Mavericks a chance to get back into the game. Wayne State held a 20-point or more advantage much of the second half with the biggest lead coming at the 4:03 mark 81-53.

A milestone moment happened with 4:24 to play in the game when senior forward Ben Dentlinger blocked a Tyrell Stuttley baseline shot to make Dentlinger the all-time blocks leader at WSC with 101, surpassing Eric Henderson’s previous mark of 100 blocks set from 1996-2000.

Wayne State has now won two of the last three meetings against Minnesota State in a series dominated by the Mavericks, who had won 28 of the previous 32 meetings between the two schools.

Junior guard Nate Mohr led Wayne State in scoring with 22 points, a career-high, going 7-of-13 from the field and 6 for 6 at the foul stripe. Redshirt freshman Justin Eagins added a season-best 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting. Jordan Janssen and Alec Millender each scored 14 points for the Wildcats.

Both teams had 31 rebounds in the contest with Janssen and Jay Saunders each grabbing eight caroms for the Wildcats. Janssen handed out a team-high six assists while Saunders had three steals.

On Saturday, Minnesota State made 14 3-pointers and shot 56 percent behind the arc to offset a career-high scoring effort from Janssen that included his 1,000th career point as Wayne State fell to  3-3 on the season and 3-1 in the NSIC South.

The Wildcats held the lead early, but the advantage went away quickly as the hot shooting Mavericks drained eight of their opening 10 3-point shots and finished the opening half going 9 of 13 behind the arc.

With the score tied at 13-13, WSC went on an 11-2 run and took their biggest lead of the game at 24-15 on a Janssen basket that made him the 36th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau.

Wayne State still held a 29-23 lead at the 6:33 mark when Minnesota State exploded for a 16-4 scoring run in just 3:17 and took a 39-33 lead before closing the first half with a 44-36 lead.

Minnesota State increased their lead in the second half to double digits and took their biggest advantage at 63-47 on a Devonte Thedford 3-pointer with 12:38 to play.

Wayne State still trailed 69-58 with 7:17 to play before making a comeback, going on an 11-2 run and getting within two at 71-69 on a Cody McCullough basket.

MSU scored the next five points to increase the lead to seven again, but a McCullough three-point play and a pair of Eagins free throws got WSC within two again at 76-74 with 1:08 remaining. But the visiting Mavericks made four straight free throws to go up 80-74 and a Nate Mohr 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds to play made the final score 80-77.

Janssen led Wayne State with a career-high 29 points to go with 14 rebounds for his 29th career double-double. He made 12-of-19 shots from the field and 5-of-7 at the foul stripe. Mohr finished with 14 points and Saunders put in 10.

WSC won the rebounding battle 35-29 thanks to 14 boards by Janssen. Janssen and Eagins had three assists while Janssen and Ben Dentlinger each had two blocks.

The Wildcats will be at home again next weekend, hosting Upper Iowa in NSIC South Division games Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Rice Auditorium.

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