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Minnesota State Mankato beats buzzer to win Division II men's basketball title

EVANSVILLE, IND. – Kyreese Willingham's three-pointer from the corner with 0.8 seconds remaining lifted the Minnesota State Mankato men's basketball team to an 88-85 victory over Nova Southeastern in the championship game of the Division II men's tournament at the Ford Center on Saturday.

The national title is the first for the Mavericks and the first for a men's team from Minnesota since Winona State won the Division II title in 2008.

The victory came less than 24 hours after the MSU Mankato women's team defeated Texas Woman's 89-73 on Friday in St. Joseph, Mo., for the Division II championship. MSU Mankato is the first university to win both the men's and women's D-II championships in the same year since Central Missouri State in 1984. Connecticut accomplished the feat twice at the Division I level, doing so in 2004 and '14.

"How about the last 24 hours for Minnesota State University?" Mavericks coach Matt Margenthaler said before praising the women's program. "… It's a basketball school. It's a basketball town. It's a lot of fun. I'm proud of our women, proud of our men, and we're going to enjoy this one."

Willingham's winning shot from the corner came when he took a pass from older brother Malik Willingham. It enabled the Mavericks to win after they blew a 13-point lead in the final 10 minutes.

"I don't even know what to say right now," Willingham said. "It's just an unbelievable feeling. … All the credit to Malik for finding me."

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 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.

"This is the vision that we had," Margenthaler said. "Always had."

MJ Iraldi scored 19 of his 25 points in the second half for defending champion Nova Southeastern (32-3). The loss ended a 20-game win streak for the Sharks.

On Saturday, the Mavericks trailed by two points at halftime before starting the second half with an 18-3 run to open a 56-43 lead with 16:43 to go.

The Mavericks led 71-58 with 10:45 remaining before the Sharks went on an 13-0 run to pull at 71-71, and it was a one-possession game most of the rest of the way.

Nova Southeastern took its last lead at 81-80 with 2:37 to play. Eagins hit a three and Kyreese Willingham had a layup off a steal to put the Mavericks up 85-81, but the Sharks made back-to-back layups to tie it with 1:15 to go.

The Mavericks missed a shot on their ensuing possession but got the ball back with 27 seconds remaining following a Sharks turnover. Willingham then made his championship-clinching basket right in front of the Mavericks bench.