ABERDEEN, S.D. -- The Northern State men's basketball team (17-5, 13-3 NSIC) crushed the Minnesota State University Mavericks (11-11, 9-7 NSIC) by a score of 96-62 on Saturday night.
Mason Stark had by far the best game of his basketball career Saturday night. When the Mavericks attempted a switch to full court pressure late in the game, Stark seemed to get a shot in the arm, popping off for seven 3-pointers in a row. A packed Wachs Arena could hardly breath as they rose to their feet with each long ball that found its mark.
Before long, chants of "Mason" began erupting from the crowd as he dazzled them with his accuracy. By the time his night ended, Stark had gone 13-of-15 for a career high of 37 points, leading the Wolves past a shocked Minnesota State basketball team.
In stark contrast to the second half, the night got off to a rough start offensively for the Wolves. After six minutes they still hadn't reached double digits and soon fell behind. However, Mason Stark foreshadowed his night with a 3-pointer at 12:42 for their first lead, an advantage they wouldn't relinquish for the remainder of the game.
For the second night in a row Northern's defensive play was dominant in the first half. By halftime the Wolves had forced 11 turnovers for 18 points, while holding the Mavericks to just 22 points in total, sending NSU to the locker room with a 37-22 lead.
The second half began with more of the same, as the Mavericks struggled to get anything in the basket. Over five minutes into the half Minnesota State hadn't scored a single point, allowing the Wolves to build a 23-point lead.
With ten minutes left in regulation, the Mavericks tried to switch things up by bringing full-court pressure. Their plan backfired spectacularly however, as Mason Stark cashed in seven straight 3-pointers to put the lead well out of reach.
Mason Stark's performance late in the game gave the Wolves' offense a shot in the arm. After heading to the sideline to an uproarious round of applause, his teammates continued right where he left off, piling on an additional 14 points to end the night at 96-62 in favor of NSU.
On offense Northern shot 54.2% from the floor, 48.3% from beyond the arc and 80.0% from the free-throw line. Meanwhile, the defense held Minnesota State to just 38.2% from the floor and forced 14 turnovers for 21 points.
Mason Stark was on top of the scoreboard, going 13-of-15 from the floor and 8-of-9 from beyond the arc for a career high of 37 points. Parker Fox and Cole Dahl were the next closest, each scoring 13 points and combining for 12 rebounds.
Andrew Kallman also had a great night, notching career highs in both rebounds and assists with nine, as he also put up nine points. Jordan Belka was close behind with eight points and four rebounds. Rounding out the scoreboard were Roko Dominovic and Gus Reede with six points each, as well as Ethan Kranhold and Gabe King who each scored two points.
Minnesota Duluth lost again Saturday night, giving the Wolves a two-game lead in the North Division as the regular season enters its final weeks. They are now tied with Sioux Falls for the best record in the conference.
Up next, The Wolves travel to Sioux Falls to fight the Cougars for control of the NSIC. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Stewart Center on February 7.
-RECAP COURTESY NSU ATHLETICS