MSU men beat Moorhead for first time in NSIC era, 78-65
After getting embarrassed by Northern State Friday, the Minot State men’s basketball team was determined to regroup.
The Beavers responded by knocking off Minnesota State Moorhead for the first time in their Division II era, winning 78-65 Saturday at the MSU Dome. Moorhead’s 11 game winning streak over the Beavers was snapped, marking the first MSU victory over the Dragons since Dec. 13, 1994.
MSU never trailed in the game and moves to 8-1 (2-1 NSIC) with the win.
“We didn’t handle adversity well against Northern State in the second half, but we did handle it today bouncing back from last night and executing a pretty good game plan,” MSU coach Matt Murken said. “We wanted to throw it inside as much as possible and David Akibo and Tyler Rudolph did a lot of the heavy lifting for us. Defensively we let a little too many guys get to the lane against us but overall it was a much better effort.”
Minot State played nearly flawless offensive basketball in the first half, not committing a turnover en route to having a 39-33 advantage at the buzzer. MSU opened the second half on a 10-0 run and didn’t turn the ball over until 10 minutes remaining in the game.
“It was an exciting win and one we wanted to have after how Friday went,” Rudolph said. “That second half was a bit of a letdown for us against Northern, so we knew what we needed to do coming into the second half against Moorhead. At stretches we let down a little bit but we picked it back up and finished with a win.”
The Dragons (3-5, 1-1) brought a 20-point second half deficit to within 71-63 on a three-point play by Tanner Kretchman with 4:01 remaining. But Rudolph ended any hope for a Moorhead comeback with a layup at the 3:01 mark and a 3-pointer with 34 seconds to play.
Rudolph led MSU with 28 points on a 12 of 18 shooting effort, while Akibo notched a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Akibo was an efficient 8-of-12 from the floor in the contest.
“Bouncing back from adversity is what’s going to make this team great,” Akibo said. “I just had an aggressive mindset coming in. I didn’t play like I wanted to against Northern, so I knew I owed it to my team to have a good game today.”
Senior point guard Luis Ricci Maia recorded another double-double for the Beavers with 14 points and 12 assists.
“He just runs the show,” Murken said. “He knows our system and knows our stuff. We always tell him what we want to run against different teams and he just keeps making the right choices. I’m really proud of his effort tonight.”
MSU shot 47.8 percent from the floor, 50 percent from the 3-point line in the second half (7-14) and only committed three turnovers. The Beavers also outrebounded the Dragons 37-32.
Johnny Beeninga led the Dragons with 16 points, while Kretchman (15) and Addison Park (10) were the other players in double figures for Moorhead. MSUM shot 40.7 percent from the floor and 5-of-19 beyond the arc.
MSU is back in action at 8 p.m. Friday in a road contest with Augustana.
Garrick Hodge covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @Garrick_Hodge.