Strong offensive display carries Minot State past SMSU, 82-65
MARSHALL — It was a tale of two games for the Southwest Minnesota State University men’s basketball team this weekend. After a red-hot shooting performance in a win on Friday, the Mustangs were held to under 44 percent shooting against Minot State University on Saturday.
The Beavers, meanwhile, did just the opposite, bouncing back from a tough shooting night against the Mustangs with a strong offensive game, shooting nearly 59 percent in an 82-65 win over SMSU at the R/A Facility.
Saturday’s game was the fourth in a row between SMSU and Minot State to start the season, with each team winning two games. SMSU coach Brad Bigler said both teams showed a lot of inconsistency throughout the weekend and it was a challenge playing the same team multiple times.
“It’s always a challenging thing playing a team multiple times a year let alone four straight games,” Bigler said. “The mentality of both teams was very unique; both teams had off nights at different times, they had theirs on Friday and we had ours Saturday, and there was just a lot of inconsistent basketball this weekend.”
Minot State caught fire to start the game, scoring 12 unanswered points after SMSU got the first basket of the game. A jumper by Nick Dufault would help the Mustangs stop the run, but the Beavers continued to find the bottom of the basket over the next several minutes, going up 17-4 with 15:30 left in the first half.
Bigler said Minot was able to win the 1-on-1 battles early on in the game and took advantage of some poor decision-making by the Mustangs.
“They won a lot of the 1-on-1 battles and some poor decision-making on our end got them out in transition and they were able to extend that lead,” Bigler said. “We did a poor job of playing unselfish basketball and we learned the hard way.”
The two teams traded points throughout the next few possessions, before a 3-pointer by Dufault cut the deficit to single digits near the midway point. SMSU continued to draw closer, as a triple from Sam Schwartz made it a six-point game before a Cliff McCray layup cut the deficit to four at 26-22 with 7:17 left in the half. Minot State had an answer, however, outscoring SMSU 14-3 over the next six minutes. SMSU would get a 3-pointer from Kaden Evans to beat the halftime buzzer for the second game in a row, but the Mustangs still found themselves trailing at the break 40-28.
Both teams traded points to start the second half, before a jumper by Dufault cut the Minot State lead to single digits at 47-38 with 15:40 left. The Beavers quickly built their advantage back up to double digits and led by as many as 15 over the next several minutes. Jake Phipps would get a layup with just under seven minutes remaining to make it an eight-point game at 63-55, but that was the closest SMSU got, as Minot State outscored the Mustangs 19-10 the rest of the way to earn the 82-65 victory.
Evans and Dufault led SMSU with 15 points apiece while Schwartz and McCray each added 11. Phipps led in rebounds with seven while Evans led in assists with five. As a team, the Mustangs shot 43.3% (26 of 60) from the field, including 10 of 28 from 3-point range (35.7%).
In addition to shooting 58.8% (30 of 51) from the field, the Beavers made seven 3-pointers and 15 of 20 from the free-throw line.
SMSU (2-2) will hit the road to face Upper Iowa University next weekend, with Friday’s game beginning at 6 p.m.