MSU covets rematch with Golden Bears

When asked about getting a second crack at Concordia-St. Paul, Carly Boag’s face lit up.

Minot State’s first meeting with the Golden Bears, without a doubt, is one it’d like to have back.

The next best thing might be today’s Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament quarterfinal matchup with C-SP at 6 p.m. at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

“We obviously didn’t play the best game against them,” said Boag, the NSIC player of the year. “I think we were down by 20 at halftime, but we ended up coming back and only losing by five. So, we definitely think that it’ll be a good match. I’m excited to play them again and I’m sure that we can win.”

Boag’s recollection of the Jan. 31 contest at Gangelhoff Center in St. Paul, Minn., isn’t far off. The Beavers trailed by as many as 24 in the first half and went into the intermission down 41-19 and with a 20.6-percent field-goal mark. They shot markedly better (48.6 percent) after the break, but ran out of time to complete the comeback.

“We pressed and came back and with about two more minutes in that game we probably would’ve won,” MSU coach Sheila Green Gerding said.

The stakes are much higher this time around. MSU is ninth in the Central Region rankings. C-SP sits in the eighth spot. The tournament champions from the NSIC, the Great American Conference and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association all receive automatic berths to the NCAA Division II tournament, with the region’s next five highest ranked teams receiving at-large bids. A win over the Golden Bears could go a long way for MSU.

“That would definitely help,” Green Gerding said. “They’re ranked above us in the region and that maybe puts us a little more into that game.

“But realistically we feel like we’ve just got to go out and play our best basketball and give ourselves the best chance to get to the next stop by winning.”

Balance is the key for C-SP, which has won three straight games, including a 81-72 victory over Minnesota Duluth in the first round of the NSIC tournament.

Forward Anika Whiting dropped 28 points on the Beavers last time, but Green Gerding said no special game plan is in the picture to limit one player more than the rest.

“I don’t think you can take any one particular thing away,” Green Gerding said. “We need to be efficient offensively and need to get stops on the defensive end. I don’t know that there’s anything more than that.”

The winner of tonight’s game will play Upper Iowa – which upset the NSIC South Division’s top seed, No. 9 Wayne State – in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Monday.

Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.