Minnesota State edges Nova Southeastern 88-85, claims both D-II championships

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Kyrese Willingham buried a 3-pointer with a second remaining and Minnesota State beat Nova Southeastern 88-85 to win its first Division II championship at the Ford Center on Saturday.

Minnesota State (35-2) became just the third school in any division to win both the men's and women's championships in the same season. The women beat Texas Women's University 89-73 on Friday. Connecticut accomplished the feat twice at the Division I level, doing so in 2004 and 2014. Central Missouri State won both D-II titles in 1984.

Willingham's winning shot came after the Mavericks blew a 13-point lead in the final 10 minutes.

Dylan Peeters had 19 points on 9-for-10 shooting to lead the Mavericks, who won their final 16 games of the season. Justin Eagins totaled 17 points and six rebounds. Kyreese and older brother Malik Willingham as well as reserve Harrison Braudis each scored 12. Kyreese added five rebounds and three steals, while Malik finished with five assists and five steals. Elijah Hazekamp pitched in with nine points and eight rebounds.

MJ Iraldi scored 19 of his game-high 25 points in the second half for defending-champion Nova Southeastern (32-3), which won its first championship last season with a 111-101 victory over West Liberty. Shane Hunter totaled 19 points and 10 rebounds. Isaiah Fuller scored 12 and Ryker Cisarik added 11 points and six rebounds. The loss snapped a 20-game win streak for the Sharks.

Iraldi and Fuller had three-point plays as Nova Southeastern jumped out to 12-2 lead. Minnesota State battled back and two straight baskets from Kyreese Willingham and Peeters turned a 19-9 deficit into a 26-25 lead for the Mavericks with 7:10 remaining in the first half.

There were seven lead changes and three ties from there until Trey Doomes hit a turnaround jumper in the paint to give the Sharks a 40-38 advantage at halftime.

Minnesota State came out firing in the second half, using 3-pointers from Hazekamp and Eagins to forge a 10-0 run that took 76 seconds. Another Hazekamp 3-pointer gave the Mavericks their biggest lead at 56-43 with 16:43 remaining.

Iraldi and Hunter had two baskets apiece in a 13-0 run and the Sharks pulled even at 71 with 6:55 to go. A Malik Willingham layup off a steal by his brother ended the run but another Iraldi layup knotted the score. Peeters scored for the Mavericks, but Iraldi answered with a 3-pointer and the Sharks took their first lead of the second half 76-75 with 4:50 left.

Nova Southeastern took its last lead at 81-80 on an Iraldi 3-pointer with 2:37 remaining. Eagins hit a 3-pointer and Kyreese Willingham had a layup off a steal and assist from his brother and Minnesota State led 85-81. Hunter and Iraldi had back-to-back layups to tie the game with 1:15 to go.

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