Northern State edges Minot State in foul fest

The Minot State University men’s basketball team suffered its first loss of the season on Friday, but not without making it excruciating on Northern State.

MSU drained 41 of 49 foul shots, but the Wolves offset that advantage with an 11-for-24 performance from the 3-point line to win 88-84 at the MSU Dome.

The teams combined for 59 fouls and 91 free throws in the choppy contest, with MSU holding a 10-point edge from the charity stripe. But the Beavers’ only two misses of the second half came in the final minute, while the Wolves (6-2 overall, 1-1 NSIC) drained 8 of 8 down the stretch.

The Beavers (5-1, 1-1) struggled early as Northern State grabbed a 40-29 lead at the intermission.

The Wolves opened the second half with a basket to take a 13-point lead that was quickly erased by an 18-0 MSU run. Six different MSU players scored during the spurt.

“We came out the second half and started playing hard enough to be successful,” MSU coach Matt Murken said. “We were attacking, playing hard on the defensive end, creating transition opportunities and had better ball and player movement on the offensive end. The first half, we were just stagnant on both ends.”

Northern State responded with a couple of its own runs, using an 11-0 stretch to take a 68-61 lead with 6 minutes, 20 seconds to go.

Every time the Beavers looked poised to regain control, the Wolves knocked in a big 3-pointer. Jared Hannigan finished 4 of 7 from downtown and tied for a team high with 14 points. Six Northern State scorers tallied double figures.

“We depend on our movement away from the ball, our cutting, and I thought our movement most of the night was really good,” Northern State coach Paul Sather said. “We got the ball side to side, I thought we were willing to make extra passes and that led to open shots.”

The Wolves finished with 17 assists on 23 made field goals.

Senior guard E.J. Williams led MSU with 26 points, senior forward Samuel Johnson added 14 and sophomore guard Dominique McDonald chipped in 13. Williams finished 10-for-10 from the foul line.

“Really, I think the story was just them out-executing us in the first half, really outplaying us,” Murken said. “They really got after us in the first 20 minutes. Finally, when we started playing the way we were capable in the second half, there wasn’t much room for error.”

The Beavers have to cope with a loss for the first time this season, and their schedule doesn’t get any easier. Undefeated Minnesota State-Moorhead (6-0, 2-0) visits today at 6 p.m.

“A loss is a loss. We can’t dwell on this,” Williams said. “We dwell on this, we lose two in a row.”

Daniel Allar covers Minot State University athletics.

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