MSU guards step up

Minot State didn’t need a mammoth offensive effort from Carly Boag to get past an upper-tier Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference squad.

But the Beavers needed a balanced output from their guards to nip Winona State 59-57 on Saturday night at the MSU Dome.

The backcourt tandem of Sacarra Molina (16 points) and Morgan Klose (14 points), coupled with stingy defense, was enough to clip the Warriors – who were tied for second in the NSIC South Division coming into the weekend.

Boag, who still recorded 11 rebounds, finished with just eight points – considerably less than the Beaver star’s 37-point outing the night before – but MSU atoned away from the basket.

Klose (3-for-4), Molina (2-for-3) and a pair of long field goals and a 3-pointer by Alisha Jones led the Beavers to a 6-for-10 mark from behind the arc.

“They’re capable of (playing well),” MSU coach Sheila Green Gerding said of her guards. “Sacarra and Morgan stepped up and hit some big shots tonight.”

The most clutch attempt of the night belonged to Klose.

Winona State (11-5, 5-4), which trailed by as many as 18 in the first half, cut MSU’s lead to 66-65 with less than a minute to go. On MSU’s subsequent possession, Klose drove by a WSU defender and scored while being fouled.

Klose, who hit all of her 3s in the first half, knew WSU was playing her too tight defensively.

“They were face-guarding me in the second half,” Klose said. “I knew I had to wait for a bad close-out and get to the basket.”

Winona State was able to establish a good look at the basket with three seconds left, but Kelsey Andrist’s 3 – a would-be game-winner – rimmed out.

WSU came into the weekend ranked No. 1 in the league in scoring defense and 3-pointers and struggled in both categories. It went 4-for-18 from 3-point range and gave up 10 points more than its average.

“We played poorly at both ends of the floor,” WSU coach Scott Ballard said. “We let them dribble drive too much in the first half. We did a good job defensively on Boag and came back, but you have to play all 40 minutes.”

Winona State methodically chipped away at Minot State’s lead in the second half. The Beavers had a 12-point lead five minutes into the final stanza, but the Warriors got to line regularly. They finished the game 21-for-27 from the charity stripe.

Minot State had just 12 attempts from the line, connecting on nine.

“They’re a good team. They weren’t going to just roll over and die,” Green Gerding said of WSU. “They’re going to keep battling, and they did.”

The Beavers (8-5, 4-5) play host to regional and NSIC rival University of Mary on Tuesday.