The first 6 1/2 minutes Tuesday night left Minot High girls basketball coach Todd Magnuson with one word: "frustrating."
That opening 6:33, the Majettes couldn't hit Lake Darling from a fishing boat. Finally, mercifully, junior wing McKale Duttenhefer buried a 3-pointer from the left corner 11:27 before halftime, putting them on the Magic City Campus scoreboard and opening the floodgates.
Minot grabbed its first lead three minutes later, held a 15-point advantage at the break and eventually hung on to defeat Mandan 53-45.
Minot High junior Brooke Suko lays in a bucket in traffic against Mandan on Tuesday at Magic City Campus.
"What was it, five-plus minutes and we still haven't scored?" Duttenhefer said. "Once I hit the shot I knew that our team would get it together and we would start making things happen."
Duttenhefer and senior guard Jayden Moum shared game-high honors with 14 points apiece for the Majettes (10-6 overall, 8-5 West Region), who travel to St. Mary's on Thursday.
Mostly due to its fruitless start, Minot converted just 8 of 28 field goals (29 percent) in the first half. Another dry spell in the second half left the Majettes at 28-percent shooting on the night.
"I mean we took good shots, they just weren't falling," Magnuson said of the first 6:33. "Defensively, I thought they did a good job on Cassie Askvig inside. They got her frustrated."
Askvig, a 6-1 sophomore, is second in the region in scoring with 18.9 points per game. The Braves (8-8, 7-6) limited the rangy forward to eight points on 1-of-11 shooting and 11 rebounds.
But Minot stifled Mandan's star as well. Senior guard McKayla Howling Wolf, the region's fourth-leading scorer (16.5 ppg), went 3-for-14 from the field. She delivered just six points and three boards. Moum, at 5-7, drew defensive duties on the 5-10 Howling Wolf.
"Hats off to Jayden Moum. I thought she did a great job on McKayla Howling Wolf," Magnuson said. "That was one of our goals - we wanted to keep her under 10 points. We chased her around the court. We did a great job keeping her off the boards and keeping her from shooting the shots that she can make."
With Askvig attracting double-teams on each post touch, Duttenhefer and Moum picked up the scoring slack in the first half. Both had eight points at the break.
Moum's personal 6-1 spurt spanning 1:20 put Minot ahead 16-7 seven minutes before halftime. Her first field goal came in traffic, something that boggled Magnuson's mind.
"Jayden's one of those kids that she's so gangly, she can get to the basket and she does things with her body I don't know how she does it," he said. "She's like a contortionist going to the basket. But she pulls of some big shots."
Duttenhefer knocked down three jumpers in the first frame, the first of which gave the Majettes the lead for good at 8-6. She put Minot ahead 29-14 at halftime with a deep trey from the right wing as time expired. Minot finished the opening half 3-for-18 from downtown.
"You live by the 3, you die by the 3," Magnuson said. "That's gonna happen a little bit, but we hit some key 3s at times and we needed it."
Out of the break, another Duttenhefer triple, along with layups from junior point guard Sophie Bengson and Moum, hiked the Majettes' advantage to 36-17 with 16:03 to play. The Braves answered with a 16-3 run over 7:03, using a 1-3-1 zone to hold Minot to one field goal in that span. Mandan eventually cut the deficit to 44-42 and 46-44 - and had one chance to tie it - but Minot again ended its pesky dry spell, preserving its second straight win and fourth in five games.
Chelsea Peterson (14 points), Mackensi Higlin (13) and Alicia Weiland (10) finished in double figures for Mandan, which went 18-for-50 from the field and made 2 of 10 3-pointers.
"It wasn't a pretty win, but it was a win," Duttenhefer said.
Notes: The bleachers at Magic City Campus were filled with red attire and plenty of support for Magnuson. The theme was "Red Night," in honor American Heart Month and the Majettes coach, who missed two weeks earlier this season due to a heart condition.
"It's overwhelming tonight. I want to thank everybody for their support, wearing the red tonight," Magnuson said. "Having the girls come out in their shooting shirts in all red, the coaches in red, I had some teachers at Jim Hill (Middle School) in red today, it really meant a lot to me and my family."
Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.