Megan Mutchler exemplified the height mismatch that plagued the Minot State University women's basketball team Saturday evening.
The 6-foot-1 small forward towered over whichever MSU player matched up with her, enabling her to pluck seven rebounds and stick short jumpers over the Beavers' defense.
Mutchler scored a career-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting to help the Wolves defeat MSU 72-57 at the MSU Dome.
Minot State University junior Carly Boag steps between a pair of Northern State defenders during their game Saturday at the MSU Dome.
MSU coach Sheila Green Gerding praised 34th-year Northern State coach Curt Fredrickson for exploiting the Beavers' relative lack of size.
"Credit to Coach (Fredrickson), he's coached long enough that he's gonna find somebody to pick on," Green Gerding said. "They took advantage of our size and when we got into man, they went at (5-7 guard) Sacarra (Molina) every time and they threw it over top of her. Really, it's just a credit to him for making the right call. That's just what he does."
The Wolves (5-2 overall, 1-2 Northern Sun) bullied the Beavers in the paint, winning the rebounding battle 48-26. MSU's Carly Boag had nine rebounds, but none of her teammates had more than three. Four Northern State players tied with a team-high seven boards, and another pulled down six.
"We didn't compete in a lot of areas tonight and rebounding was one of them," Green Gerding said. "We just didn't challenge enough. Sometimes we stood there and the ball fell right into their hands, and other times we just didn't make a big enough effort."
The Wolves kept a double-digit lead for most of the second half. When Northern State made a turnover or took a bad shot, MSU (4-1, 2-1) typically did the same on the other end.
MSU cut the lead to 62-55 with about five minutes remaining, but Northern State responded with an 8-0 spurt to regain command.
"The disappointing thing about our runs is we didn't capitalize on their mistakes," Green Gerding said. "They capitalized on ours. Every time we made a mistake, they made something good happen out of it."
Both teams traded buckets early in an uptempo first half. Northern State led 28-19 at the 10-minute mark, but the defenses got a little more stingy after the initial scoring burst.
Northern State shot 50 percent in the opening stanza and outrebounded MSU 26-13. Mutchler scored 18 of her points in the opening half, shooting 7-of-8 from the field before the break.
"That's the best game she's had all year long and I think Minot didn't expect that because we haven't seen that type of game from her yet," Fredrickson said. "We had some kids come off our bench and do a pretty good job for us tonight. I thought our bench was better than Minot's tonight and that's maybe another reason we won."
Boag led MSU with 20 points, Molina added 14 points and three assists and senior guard Lauren Safranski chipped in seven points and a pair of assists.
The Beavers play at Minnesota, Crookston at 6 p.m. Friday.