Defense lets down Minot State in loss

The Minnesota Duluth men’s basketball team is known for having three guards score two-thirds of its points.

That statistic didn’t change Friday, but a member of the high-scoring trio did.

Junior Coleman came off the bench to score 19 and spark the Bulldogs to an 88-80 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference victory over Minot State University in front of 1,689 at the MSU Dome.

The left-handed slasher explosively attacked the hoop and poured in 15 of his points before halftime, when the Bulldogs led 43-38 despite trailing by nine early.

“I just was taking what they were giving me,” Coleman said. “Reading the screens, seeing if the defender was going under or over and just attacking from there.”

Coleman’s performance made up for a relatively poor shooting night from leading scorer Jordan Reetz, who shot 1 of 8 and had nine points, more than seven below his season average.

The Bulldogs (7-8 overall, 5-6 NSIC) were efficient in their motion offense, shooting 52 percent from the field and 11 of 24 from the 3-point line. Senior guard Peter Crawford scored a team-high 24 points and drilled 6 of 7 from long range, and backcourt mate Reece Zoelle chipped in 20 points.

“We are moving the ball well and we’re getting open looks,” Duluth coach Matt Bowen said. “Motion offense, we’re setting a lot of screens, a lot of back screens. … As we’ve started to kind of adapt to our team, we’re starting to make open shots. In the early part of the conference season, we were shooting 24 percent from 3 and that’s the difference in the game tonight – we shot well from 3.”

MSU (6-9, 2-9) also hit 11 of 24 from 3-point range, but missed several layups and putbacks inside. Still, the Beavers shot a respectable 47 percent. Senior guard E.J. Williams hit 10 of 17 shots for a game-high 27 points.

“I thought we played as well offensively as we have in a while,” MSU coach Matt Murken said. “I thought we created some very easy opportunities for ourselves. Some of those we cashed in and some we didn’t … but I thought we moved the ball well and we executed very well on that end of the court. But defensively, we just didn’t finish enough plays.”

The Beavers got within four points a couple of times early in the second half, but a 10-4 run beginning with 12:57 remaininghelped the Bulldogs extend their advantage to double digits.

MSU stuck around for the rest of the game, but never truly threatened. Crawford drilled a dagger 3 with 3:02 left and MSU fouled Reetz while the ball was in the air. Reetz converted the free throws and the five-point possession gave UMD an 85-69 lead and forced the Beavers to frantically play catch-up.

“Crawford just got very hot from behind the arc,” Murken said. “Every time we were late on a close-out, he was knocking that in and a couple of those were very big jump shots for them.”

Junior Thomas Korf scored 12 point and sophomore Dominique McDonald added 11 for the Beavers, who will try to snap a five-game skid when St. Cloud State (11-4, 7-4) visits tonight at 6.

Daniel Allar covers Minot State University athletics.

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