MARSHALL - After the first 18 minutes of Wednesday's boys' basketball game at the R/A Facility on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State University one thing was strikingly obvious: the Marshall Tigers were on a roll.
Winners of their last four games prior to their contest on Wednesday with the Mankato East Cougars, the 10th-ranked (Class AAA) Tigers were able to extend that winning streak to five games with another commanding victory. The Tigers scored 51 points in the first half while on their way to a 73-36 win in the night cap of the first day of the Marshall Fastbreak Club Holiday Tournament.
"The guys have a lot of positive momentum going right now and they did a good job of coming out ready to play," Marshall head coach Travis Carroll said. "They did a good job of finding their teammates and creating some good opportunities. I think defensively there were some things that we could do a little bit better; or taking care of the ball, we could have done that a little bit better in the first half. Overall, the guys came out ready to play."
Photo by Travis Andries
Marshall forward Aaron Mathiowetz releases a floater from the baseline as Mankato East’s Matt Bornholdt rises up to try to block the shot during Day 1 of the Marshall Fastbreak Club Holiday Tournament played at the R/A Facility at Southwest Minnesota State University.
Marshall wasted little time getting started against Mankato East (1-6 overall), as Hunter Peterson started the scoring with a 3-pointer from the left corner 40 seconds into the game.
The Cougars hung with the Tigers for the first four minutes, as four points from Mankato East guard Brandon Adema had the Cougars trailing 9-6 with 14 minutes, 5 seconds left in the opening half.
Aaron Mathiowetz scored 16 seconds later to jumpstart an immediate 10-0 run for Marshall that was part of a greater 42-17 run that allowed the Tigers to take a 51-23 lead into halftime. The Tigers also held an 18-8 scoring edge over the final five minutes of the half.
The Tigers (5-1 overall) made 21 of their 30 total field goals in the first half, including all three of their 3-pointers.
Senior guard Austin Saugstad did a majority of the damage for the Tigers, scoring all of his team-high 15 points in the first half.
"Austin's a tremendous leader," Carroll said. "He's a floor general and does a good job reading defenses. He did a good job of reading the defense tonight and attacking the rim. When they started taking that away from him, he did a good job of finding his teammates."
Tanner Bukowski and Riley Sharbono each had 11 points for the Tigers, taking advantage of the space created by Saugstad's dribble-drives. Derek Buysse also reached double figures scoring for Marshall with 10 points, while Peterson fell just shy with nine.
The game against Mankato East marked the sixth time this season that Sharbono has scored at least 10 points, achieving the feat in each of Marshall's games thus far. Not bad for a player who saw extremely limited floor time as a sophomore a season ago.
"He's consistent. He's consistent on the offensive end of the floor, he's consistent on the defensive end of the floor," Carroll said. "When he comes to play, we know what we're going to get out of him. He's been doing really well."
Sharbono picked up his final points with 13:38 to play, signaling the end of competitive tension in the game.
Both teams were able to unload their benches soon after, which limited the total scoring. Combined, Marshall and Mankato East scored 18 points over the final 12 minutes of the game, while the Tigers closed out the game on a 5-0 run lasting 7:37.
Brock Margenthaler led Mankato East in scoring with 10 points, and when combined with Yasin Omar's nine points, the pair accounted for over half of the Cougars' offense on Wednesday.
Marshall is back on the floor at the R/A Facility at 8 p.m. tonight, as they face former head coach Barry Wohler and his Orono Spartans. Mankato East faces Minneapolis Washburn in the day's opening contest.
Mankato East (36)
Scoring:?Brandon Adema 6, Mattu Chuol 4, Jordan Grams 2, Matt Bornholdt 3, Yasin Omar 9, Brock Margenthaler 10, Josh Sloniker 2.
Aaron Mathiowetz 3 0-0 6, Bryce Johnson 0 2-2 2, Hunter Peterson 4 0-0 9, Connor Winkelman 1 0-0 2, Austin Saugstad 6 2-2 15, Derek Buysse 5 0-0 10, Riley Sharbono 4 3-4 11, Tanner Bukowski 4 2-3 11, Zach Drum 1 0-0 2, Abdi Amin 0 0-2 0, Spencer Petrich 2 1-2 5. Totals 30 10-15 73. 3-pointers 3.
Halftime Score: Marshall 51, Mankato East 23.