Mankato runs over MSU women, 75-54

Garrick Hodge/MDN Minot State's Mariah Payne surveys the passing lanes during a women's college basketball game Friday at the MSU Dome in Minot.

This might have been the most disappointing performance by the Minot State women’s basketball team this season.

After a pair of single-digit road losses to the top two teams in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North Division, the Beavers returned to the MSU Dome Friday and were completely outplayed by Minnesota State University Mankato. Mankato, one of the bottom four teams in the NSIC South, defeated MSU 75-54.

“This is incredibly disappointing,” MSU coach Mark Graupe said. “I thought we were the Minot State at the beginning of the year. I thought we took some steps forward lately by playing better basketball, but we took a major step back. We were just not good today.”

In the loss, the Beavers committed 19 turnovers, allowed nine 3-pointers and shot 37.1 percent from the floor.

“Everything was disappointing,” Graupe said. “We spent three days on their action and we were still totally lost. We were getting clipped on their screens and we just spent three days on that. It started with our shootaround today. We had a terrible shootaround.

“We weren’t focused at all during it, we were just laughing, and I didn’t want to ruin their mood, but it was a total screw around. I was not happy. I didn’t say a word, I kept my mouth zipped, but it was just a big joke. There was a big lack of focus and it really showed.”

Interestingly enough, with the 21-point win, Mankato (5-11, 3-8 NSIC) hasn’t had played in any game decided by single digits all year.

The Mavericks never trailed from tipoff and started the game on a 7-0 run. With 8:34 left in the second quarter, Minnesota State had increased its lead to 30-14 thanks to a 5-of-7 start beyond the arc. At halftime, Mankato led 40-25.

MSU (6-9, 3-8) had its comeback effort derailed early in the third quarter as leading scorer Holly Johnson picked up her fourth foul with 7 minutes left in the quarter. With the Mavericks boasting a 46-30 lead, Graupe elected to play mainly reserves for the remainder of the game.

“We are going to be outmatched from a talent standpoint virtually every night,” Graupe said. “They don’t understand that we have to outwork and out execute people. Friday, we were never in the game. And that’s going to happen every single time with the remaining 11 games if we think we can just show up. We don’t have enough talent to do that.

“That’s why we were picked 16th in the preseason. It’s not because of me, and it’s not because of (former MSU coach) Sheila Green Gerding. It’s because they thought we had the least amount of talent in the league. If we don’t outwork teams, we won’t be in them, just like this game showed.”

Mankato’s Taylor Klug was a thorn in the Beavers’ side all night, as she had a game-high 27 points on a 11 of 20 shooting effort. Claire Ziegler chipped in 12 points for the Mavericks, while Claire Jordan added 11. Mankato shot 44.1 percent from the floor, 9-of-25 from beyond the arc and converted 14 of 21 free throws.

Mariah Payne led MSU with 11 points, while Calli Delsman chipped in 10. The Beavers shot 37.1 percent from the floor, 6-of-23 from 3-point range and converted 2 of 8 free throws.

MSU is back in action at 4 p.m. today against Concordia St. Paul at the MSU Dome.

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