Samuel Johnson and Chris East have a friendly competition going, one that ultimately benefits the Minot State University basketball team.
"Sometimes we just challenge each other before games, who can get the most rebounds," Johnson said.
Johnson gained bragging rights Tuesday, but East was a force as well. The bouncy 6-foot-6 forwards combined for 22 rebounds - the same as Dickinson State's entire team - as the Beavers won 77-52 in front of 978 at the MSU Dome.
Minot State University senior forward Samuel Johnson drives into a crowded lane Tuesday at the MSU Dome. Johnson had 13 points and 13 rebounds as the Beavers crushed Dickinson State 77-52.
"It was just really aggressive on the glass from those two guys," said MSU coach Matt Murken, whose team held a 43-22 rebounding advantage. "When they do that, we're pretty good."
Johnson finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds, including 11 boards in the first half. The Beavers' superior effort turned the game into a blowout less than two weeks after MSU won a competitive 79-70 exhibition contest against the Blue Hawks (0-3). East tallied eight points and nine rebounds.
"They wanted the ball more than we did," DSU coach Ty Orton said. "We didn't go get the ball the way we should have, we didn't block out. Our fundamentals aren't where they need to be."
MSU junior wing Thomas Korf helped the Beavers (2-0) to a fast start. The deadly shooter hit all three of his 3-point attempts in the opening 10 minutes, then found other ways to score.
Korf got to the line for a pair of free throws, drove by a hard-closing defender for a layup and tipped in a miss at the halftime buzzer to give the Beavers a 39-31 lead. He scored 15 of his game-high 18 points before the intermission, and MSU never trailed after Korf's third 3-pointer put the Beavers ahead 21-19 midway through the first half.
Strictly a long-range specialist last season, Korf has shown increased versatility and a willingness to expand his game. His eight two-point field-goal attempts through two games and an exhibition is half of his total from last season.
"Defenses are starting to get close to me and hug up on me," Korf said. "I feel like I'm able to get past them and dish off or make a layup."
Korf hit one more 3 in the second half, but Murken said the Beavers primarily used him as a decoy. The plan worked, as 6-10 post Lazar Boskovic came off the bench to score 12 points - including 10 on shots from point-blank range.
MSU went on a pair of 9-0 runs beginning with nine minutes remaining to stretch a double-digit lead to an insurmountable advantage.
Johnson scored twice in the first spurt and Boskovic added two layups in the second.
Johnson had the biggest highlight of the night, turning a missed jump shot into a one-handed putback slam.
Senior guard E.J. Williams was the fourth MSU scorer in double figures, riding an 8 of 12 night at the free-throw line to 10 points.
The Beavers held DSU to 37.5 percent from the field and outscored the Blue Hawks 19-11 at the charity stripe.
"Anytime you hold a team in the 30s (in shooting percentage) and 50s in scoring, that's a good defensive night," Murken said. "Overall, I'm happy with our effort."
The Beavers host Presentation College (S.D.) at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Daniel Allar covers Minot State University athletics. Follow him on Twitter @DAllar_MDN.