Low energy hampers MSU women

Minot State University women’s basketball coach Sheila Green Gerding had a sinking feeling things might turn out this way.

The old adage, “You play like you practice,” is as accurate as ever, and the Beavers learned that the hard way Friday evening at the MSU Dome.

A sloppy week of preparation resulted in an uninspired performance for MSU in an 84-57 loss to No. 14 Wayne State.

The Beavers (8-3 overall, 4-3 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) allowed the Wildcats (13-1, 6-1) to shoot 77.8 percent in the second half and drain 12 3-pointers en route to posting the most points by a visitor at the Dome all year.

“We came with no energy,” Green Gerding said. “We played just as we practiced all week. We did everything to prepare ourself to get our butt kicked this weekend.”

MSU senior forward Carly Boag finished with 11 points and 10 boards for her sixth double-double of the year, but shot 29.4 percent (5 of 17) – her first sub-50-percent outing of the year.

“We certainly wanted to limit her opportunities,” Wayne State coach Chris Kielsmeier said. “She’s a great, great player. We know that she can make a lot of plays. We wanted to keep the ball out of her hands as much as possible.”

Junior forward Katie Hardy added 16 points and eight rebounds for MSU, which never caught stride against WSC’s matchup zone defense. All 11 Beavers who attempted a shot finished below 50 percent from the field, with MSU converting 22 of 70 (31.4 percent) field goal attempts. The Beavers’ shot selection grew impatient as the deficit widened.

“We’re capable of so much more,” Green Gerding said. “Give them credit, their zone is tough, it’s hard to score against. But bottom line, our effort was a little less than pathetic.”

The matchup zone – which appears as a standard 2-3 look at first glance – closed up passing lanes, causing fits for MSU. The Beavers struggled to penetrate the lane and forced passes into traffic, resulting in 14 turnovers.

“We’re a difficult team to prepare for and when we get our zone on you, we can have some success like we had tonight,” Kielsmeier said.

MSU and WSC traded blows in the early going, with the Beavers producing a seven-point spurt to take a 16-14 lead 8 minutes, 50 seconds into the contest. But the Wildcats tallied the next eight points and MSU never led again.

WSC scored 20 of the final 27 points before halftime – including the last six – to take a 42-29 advantage into the intermission.

“We got down on ourselves if we missed a shot, which we can’t do,” Hardy said. “We have to recover and bust it back on defense. We got beat up and down the court tonight, which doesn’t usually happen.”

The Wildcats made 6 of 10 shots from beyond the arc in the second half, with four coming from reserve Millie Niggeling.

The 6-foot-1 junior forward torched MSU for 14 of her 17 points after halftime. She made all five of her 3-point attempts and 6 of 7 altogether. Coming off the bench, she’s hardly a focal point of any scouting report.

“We could’ve made anybody look like an all-star tonight,” Green Gerding said. “You give them all the credit you want, but bottom line is I don’t know what team was out there tonight. We’re capable of a lot more. It was an embarrassing game, embarrassing performance.”

WSC’s Ellen Hansen posted a game-high 18 points to go with nine rebounds, while teammates Ashton Yossi (14 points) and Jaylan Spencer (10) also finished in double figures.

The Beavers host No. 13 Augustana at 4 p.m. today.

“You don’t have any time to think about it and dwell on it,” Green Gerding said. “Bottom line is, we gotta get ready for Augie tomorrow.”

Ryan Holmgren covers Minot High athletics and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.