Clock strikes midnight

Beavers fall just short of erasing second half deficit, fall to Winona 70-65

Sean Arbaut/Minot State athletics Minot State's Tyler Rudolph (24) puts up a hook shot during a men's college basketball game Friday at the MSU Dome in Minot.

It was a Cinderella moment that wasn’t meant to be for the Minot State men’s basketball team and Tyler Rudolph.

Rudolph, a senior forward, needed 30 points to break the all-time school career scoring record heading into Friday’s matchup with Winona State at the MSU Dome.

With 7 seconds remaining, Rudolph sat at 27 points with his Beavers trailing 68-65. A crowd of 1,297 held its breath as the Bismarck native lifted an off-balance game-tying shot attempt, but the Dome fell silent as the ball harmlessly clanked off the rim. Winona State converted two free throws and walked away with a 70-65 victory.

“I thought the possession before we really got a good look from (point guard Luis) Ricci Maia that would have tied it,” MSU coach Matt Murken said. “I thought that was a good shot that he usually makes but it just didn’t happen. We had a second chance at the end with Rudy and he executed pretty well on the fly. He was open, but not wide open, and he couldn’t make the shot.”

With the loss, MSU falls to 17-4 (11-4 NSIC), while Winona State improves to 14-7 (9-6). Rudolph will need three points in today’s 6 p.m. matchup with Upper Iowa to pass Paul Harrell (1,826 career points), for the school record.

MSU gave its largest crowd of the season plenty to cheer about early in the game, as the Beavers started the contest on a 22-9 run. Yet, the Warriors outscored the Beavers 29-10 to take a 38-32 lead into halftime.

“We just haven’t played a complete game in a lot of our games recently,” Murken said. “That’s not going to get the job done this game and it’s not going to get it done the remaining seven games we have left. We probably played 20 good minutes and 20 average minutes. We have to find a way to make improvement happen because there’s still a lot of basketball to be played.”

In addition to Rudolph’s 27 points, senior point guard Luis Ricci Maia chipped in 12 points and Russ Davis contributed 10 points. MSU shot 47.3 percent from the floor and 7-of-21 from beyond the arc. Winona State outrebounded the Beavers 33-32.

“We didn’t finish plays, there were a lot of loose balls off the rim that they just beat us to,” Murken said. “Those kinds of things result in them having five more shot opportunities than we did. If you have five more shots in a two to three-point game, it’s probably going to pay off. We just couldn’t finish off those and it hurt us.”

The Warriors had the Beavers on the ropes with a 68-59 lead and only 3:22 remaining, but MSU went on a 6-0 run to reduce the deficit to three. That set the stage for Ricci Maia and Rudolph with potential game-tying attempts, but as good as the Beavers have been at erasing late deficits this season, falling into a second half hole sunk MSU this time.

Caleb Wagner led Winona State with 23 points, while Kevion Taylor chipped in 13. The Warriors shot 44.3 percent from the floor and made 11 of 31 3-pointers.

MSU is back in action at 6 p.m. tonight against Upper Iowa at the MSU Dome.

Garrick Hodge covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @Garrick_Hodge.