Sometimes it’s easy for Christina Boag to get overshadowed on the basketball court by her twin sister, Carly.
After all, Carly is the leading scorer in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference at 20.1 points per game and a returning honorable mention All-American.
But then Christina will have a night like Friday against Upper Iowa – 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks – and remind everyone that she can play a little bit, too.
The following day, the 6-foot-2 junior posted 13 points and nine rebounds as the Beavers (11-3 overall, 7-3 NSIC) completed the weekend sweep with a win at Winona State. Christina’s big games were particularly important on a weekend when Carly, a senior, produced well below her typical high averages.
“She got some (points) inside posting up, she hit some 3s and she did a nice job of driving to the basket and getting to the free-throw line,” MSU coach Sheila Green Gerding said of Christina, who plays small forward but can post up against smaller opponents in the paint. “It’s a tough matchup for people. Who do you put on her?”
Christina averages 12 points, 6.8 rebounds, three assists, 2.1 steals and 1.2 blocks – with those defensive statistics ranking in the top seven in the league.
“Chris is very capable of putting up great (scoring) numbers, but she’s also a great passer and she’s also a great rebounder,” Green Gerding said. “I think she plays within herself and probably could do more offensively, but she understands the team concept and knows we wanna get the ball inside.”
Both Boags are blessed with a potent combination of size and versatility gained from playing perimeter-oriented motion offense in their native Australia. Only when they arrived in Minot did Carly gravitate toward the post and Christina toward a wing position.
“I guess she’s always had the better outside shot, but we didn’t really distinguish that I was the post player until probably our freshman year here,” Carly said.
In practice, Christina works with the guards and Carly with the post players, which helps keep sibling bickering to a minimum. But it’s not gone altogether.
“If I give her a good pass and she doesn’t make it, I give her a few words but not too bad,” Christina said. “We do have our moments in practice where we do not like each other. I think it’s calmed down a little bit, especially because it’s her last year with me and we wanna make it a good year.”
If the Boag twins keep giving opponents fits with their size and skill level, it could be a historic season for the MSU women’s program. On Tuesday, the Beavers received votes in the national top 25 for the first time since moving to Division II. MSU is still searching for its first NSIC tournament win and NCAA tournament berth, goals that seem more attainable with each victory.
East surpasses 500-rebound milestone
At 6-foot-6, MSU senior Chris East is often undersized playing power forward or even center in the bruising NSIC.
That hasn’t stopped the Toronto native from becoming one of the best rebounders in the league.
East pulled down 23 total rebounds in a pair of games last weekend and now has 506 for his career, good for ninth on the program’s all-time list. If he stays at his current clip of 8.1 boards per game, East will move into MSU’s top five by season’s end.
“I think it just comes naturally,” East said. “I kind of gain more confidence when I rebound rather than scoring. I try to make myself stand out more. If that’s what it takes to win, I’ll do it. If I have to score 0 points and get 30 rebounds to help us win, that’s what I’ll do.”
East makes up for his lack of height with strength, athleticism and relentless pursuit of the basketball.
“He’s got a combination of being pretty strong, able to jump a little bit,” MSU coach Matt Murken said. “When he’s really focused on rebounding, it doesn’t have to come into his area for him to get it and that’s really the sign of a good rebounder.”
East’s ability to track rebounds all over the court is particularly apparent on the offensive end, where he’s leading the conference with 3.5 offensive rebounds per game. The next closest player averages 2.9.
“With the offensive rebounding, I think it’s much easier for me, to be honest,” he said. “I know how the players on my team play. I know what they’re gonna do and when they’re gonna shoot.”
The Beavers (6-8 overall, 2-8 NSIC) boast a plus-6.5 rebounding margin, the third best in the league.
Hardy’s clutch FTs no surprise to coach
In Saturday’s women’s basketball game at Winona State, MSU junior Katie Hardy found herself in about the most pressure-packed situation possible for a player.
Hardy was fouled on the baseline with the Beavers trailing by one and 2.3 seconds remaining. Nearly 40 minutes of back-and-forth action came down to whether Hardy – who was wearing a splint on her shooting hand to protect a broken finger – could sink a pair of freebies.
Neither shot touched rim and MSU escaped with a 60-59 win.
“I was extremely nervous,” Hardy said. “I remember looking over at Carly (Boag) and thinking, ‘Oh my gosh,’ with my hands shaking and stuff like that. It was just getting past that first one. Once I got that first one I was like, ‘Well in all cases, we’ll at least go to overtime but why not just win it?’ I lucked out and got ’em both.”
If Hardy was jittery, she sure fooled MSU coach Sheila Green Gerding. And to call the shots lucky was a crafty show of modesty by Hardy, who shoots a team-high 90 percent from the charity stripe.
“There was no question in our mind that those free throws were going in,” Green Gerding said. “She’s been in a lot of big games in her life. She was in state title games in high school. And she did it with a broken finger, which is even more impressive. She’s that kid – just a mentally strong player.”
Men’s team battling injuries
The MSU men’s basketball team hasn’t quite been healthy for the last couple of months.
Almost as soon as junior center Lazar Boskovic returned from an ankle injury, sophomore guard Dan Yale (turf toe) and junior wing Adam Randall (high ankle sprain) started to miss time.
Randall, who started at small forward before the injury, returned in the Beavers’ games last weekend but was limited in 29 combined minutes of action. MSU coach Matt Murken said he was held out of practice this week until Wednesday, but appears to be approaching full speed.
Yale has the protective boot off of his foot but hasn’t been able to practice at full speed yet.
Senior guard E.J. Williams, the Beavers’ leading scorer at 14.8 points per game, has been playing through discomfort due to cartilage damage in his knee.
“He has an injury that eventually will require surgery, but it sounds like he can hopefully play through it for the time being,” Murken said.
Alumni weekend set
The men’s basketball program is hosting a reunion this weekend that coincides with games against Minnesota Duluth on Friday and St. Cloud State on Saturday.
Murken said 35 former players had confirmed to attend as of Wednesday, including representatives from each decade back to the 1940s.
The players will be recognized during halftime of Saturday’s contest.
Former players interested in the weekend events can register online at msubeavers.com or call the athletic department at 858-3041.
MSU track to open season
The Beavers begin their indoor track and field schedule Saturday at the Bemidji State Super 8 Open.
MSU had five first-place winners in the same meet last year, including returning athletes Kirk Capdeville (pole vault), Joel Cartwright (5,000 meters) and Tyler Flatland (600m).
Flatland and Capdeville were listed as men’s “athletes to watch” by the NSIC in the preseason. Sprinter Sienna Dailey and thrower Kamilah Vanterpool were MSU’s women’s selections.
Daniel Allar covers Minot State University athletics. Follow him on Twitter @DAllar_MDN.