Beavers seek revenge against Duluth, St. Cloud State

The Minot State University women’s basketball team has done a nice job of moving past a weekend it would like to forget.

Since losing at St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth on Dec. 12-13, the Beavers have won four of five games, including a victory over then-No. 13 Augustana – MSU’s first win over a ranked opponent in Division II.

Now, MSU will look to exact revenge on its Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North Division cohorts. UMD (9-5 overall, 6-4 NSIC) visits the MSU Dome at 6 tonight and SCSU (9-5, 5-5) will face the Beavers on Saturday.

MSU coach Sheila Green Gerding said the Beavers (11-3, 7-3) came out flat in the first meeting against Duluth, when the Bulldogs were missing top scorer and rebounder Hannah Rutten (15 ppg, 10.7 rpg) due to injury. Rutten has returned and spearheads a lineup that ranks third in the conference with a plus-4.7 rebounding margin.

UMD outrebounded MSU 28-17 in the teams’ first meeting.

“I think the biggest focus right now is on boxing out and rebounding,” MSU junior forward Katie Hardy said. “We got beat pretty bad on the boards (that) weekend so it’s just limit to one shot only and get a hand up.”

SCSU beat MSU 92-85 when the teams matched up in December. Both teams shot 56 percent from the field, but the Huskies drilled 16 3-pointers to MSU’s nine.

“We sure hope we can hit shots like we did the first time, but we need to slow them down on the defensive end,” Green Gerding said. “That’s really what the story was – they hit a few more 3s than we did and we need to do a better job of getting our hands up and contesting.”

The Huskies had three players score more than 20 points in that contest – including Betsy MacDonald, who hit 8 of 8 field goals and all seven of her 3-point attempts en route to 23 points.

MSU can counter with plenty of offensive firepower of its own. All five Beaver starters average 10.8 points per game or more and senior forward Carly Boag leads the NSIC at 20.1 points per outing.

That offensive prowess is a luxury, but Green Gerding said this weekend’s matchups may hinge on defense and rebounding.

“Bottom line is we always wanna come out with great energy and protect our home court,” she said.

Daniel Allar covers Minot State University athletics. Follow him on Twitter

@DAllar_MDN.