Willingham hits 3-pointer in final second as Minnesota Mankato State men win national title

A basketball player shoots
Minnesota State Mankato defeated Nova Southwestern 88-85 in the NCAA II championship game Saturday.
Minnesota State Mankato

Chad Courrier | Mankato Free Press

Kyreese Willingham hit a 3-pointer with .08 seconds to play and Minnesota State Mankato defeated Nova Southwestern 88-85 in the NCAA Division II championship game Saturday.

It’s the first national championship for the top-seeded Mavericks, defeating the defending national champions. Combined with the women’s basketball team winning a national championship on Friday, it’s the second time in history that one university has captured the men’s and women’s titles in the same season, joining Central Missouri State in 1984.

The Mavericks were tentative early, both shooting and ball-handling. Meanwhile, Nova Southeastern was aggressive to the basket, jumping ahead 12-2 after three minutes.

The Mavericks finally hit a few jumpers, with 3-pointers from Elijah Hazekamp and Justin Eagins, but MSU still had 6 turnovers and was shooting 31.6 percent to trail 21-12 at the 10-minute mark.

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The Mavericks went on a 16-6 run to take the lead with 6:36 remaining in the first half. Harrison Braudis had two free throws and a 3-pointer in the run, and Dylan Peeters had four scores at the rim.

Minnesota State went into halftime down 40-38 but playing better. The defense had three steals and four blocked shots and held Nova Southeastern to 37.5 percent shooting.

The Mavericks opened the second half with a 10-0 run, with Hazekamp and Eagins hitting 3-pointers. The lead was 71-58 with 10 minutes to go, but the Mavericks were struggling with foul trouble.

Nova Southeastern, the highest-scoring team in Division II, responded with a 13-0 run and eventually took the lead at 76-75 with 4:46 to play.

But the Mavericks recovered in the final 2 minutes as Eagins hit a 3-pointer and Kyreese Willingham made a breakaway layup.

The Mavericks got the ball back with the game tied at 85 and 27 seconds to go. The Mavericks worked the ball around and Malik Willingham found Kyreese Willingham, who lifted a 3-pointer over the oncoming defender, and the swish was stunning.