Big second half propels Upper Iowa past Beavers

Upper Iowa doesn’t fancy itself a transition basketball team, but its 84-56 beatdown of Minot State on Friday night would suggest otherwise.

Ten of the Beavers’ 17 turnovers were turned into fast-break points against the Peacocks, who also shot an impressive 50-percent from 3-point range.

Upper Iowa, known for its length inside, beat Minot State at its own game in the NSIC game at the MSU Dome.

“Completely embarrassing,” MSU coach Matt Murken said. “We didn’t play anywhere close to where we’re supposed to be playing. We played selfishly, we played lazy and we didn’t execute.”

Minot State, coming off a pair of conference road wins a week ago, had a short-lived 29-28 lead in the first half, but was disconcerted by Upper Iowa’s defense in the second half.

The Peacocks (10-4 overall, 6-2 NSIC) forced turnovers on three of the Beavers’ first four possessions to begin the stanza. From there MSU was held to just 20 second-half points.

Minot State (4-8, 3-5) didn’t do itself any favors from the field, either, shooting 33 percent. That statistic had a lot to do with the Peacocks.

“We didn’t play very well defensively on the road last weekend,” UI coach Brian Dolan said. “But we had a good week of practice and tonight we had a little bit of an extra edge to us.”

Cousins E.J. Williams and Dominique McDonald were bright spots for MSU in the first half, helping the Beavers climb out of an 11-point hole to take a lead. They finished with 15 points each but struggled in the second half.

The double-digit output was Williams’ sixth in a row.

Five players reached double figures for Upper Iowa, led by senior guard Joey Woods’ 18 points.

“We didn’t do a good job making them score over the top of us,” Murken said.

Dolan was pleasantly surprised with how his club was able to score the ball.

“We did a nice job of spacing tonight, which don’t usually do,” he said. “We usually play like a fifth-grade team – all (spaced) like a cluster.”

Adam Randall also chipped in 10 points for Minot State, which hosts Winona State tonight at 6 p.m.