Minot State University women's basketball coach Sheila Green Gerding couldn't fault her team's offensive execution or lack of defensive effort.
The Beavers simply had too many mental breakdowns Friday against St. Cloud State, allowing the Huskies - and particularly SCSU star Jessica Benson - to get open transition shots. Benson scored a game-high 24 points, including seven in a decisive run in the second half, to lead the Huskies to a 77-71 win at the MSU Dome.
"I think we lost her a few times, just lost her with lack of communication," Green Gerding said. "We switched out on something and nobody guarded her."
Minot State University senior Francesca DeAngelis attempts a reverse layup during the first half of a game against St. Cloud State (Minn.) on Friday at the MSU Dome.
SCSU's 11-0 spurt, which began with 8 minutes, 32 seconds remaining stretched a one-point game into a 73-61 Huskies advantage.
The Beavers (8-9 overall, 4-9 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) pulled within six points when Sacarra Molina hit 1-of-2 free throws with 2:38 remaining, but never got closer. The Huskies (13-4, 9-4) hit a few key free throws down the stretch, and MSU twice failed to secure the rebound when SCSU missed.
"Our defense, our communication, was just terrible," Molina said. "It just wasn't there. No one was communicating. We were tired."
SCSU shot 54 percent in the opening half to lead 44-33 at the break. Junior guard Rachael Moen led the way early, knocking down three 3-pointers en route to scoring 13 of her 15 points in the opening frame.
Senior guard Francesca DeAngelis led the Beavers back.
The versatile 5-9 slasher scored 11 points in the opening 4:10 of the second half to help the Beavers tie the game at 50.
"We needed to get Franny going," Green Gerding said. "Right away we kind of got the ball inside and she did a good job of posting up and finishing. She kind of went on a mini-run and carried us there for a while. I thought all night we did a good job offensively of sharing the wealth and moving the ball around and looking to attack."
The teams traded baskets for the next few minutes, with MSU even grabbing a brief lead, before SCSU went on its big run behind the crafty inside play of Benson.
"I thought the second half, Jess did a better job of running the floor and we were able to find her in some transition baskets and that helped us," SCSU coach Lori Fish said. "I thought late in the second half we were able to continue our transition game and we didn't wear down."
MSU junior Carly Boag recorded a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds and Molina led the Beavers with 20 points. DeAngelis finished with 16.
"Offensively, we did some nice things," Green Gerding said. "And defensively, we played hard. We just had too many mental errors."
MSU junior point guard Alisha "Speedy" Jones was removed from the game with an apparent left knee injury in the second half.
The Beavers host Minnesota Duluth (10-7, 7-6) at 4 p.m. today.