MSU women rebound with a 57-53 win over CSP

Minot State's Diondra Denton (44) puts up a shot during a women's college basketball game Saturday at the MSU Dome. Sean Arbaut/ Minot State atheltics

There was a pretty somber tone in the Minot State women’s basketball team’s locker room Friday night.

The Beavers had just suffered arguably their worst loss of the season against a team that, on paper, at least, they shouldn’t lose to by double digits.

MSU responded by completely dominating the Concordia St. Paul Golden Bears Saturday, winning 71-54.

“Friday, we took that one hard,” MSU coach Mark Graupe said. “There was nothing good about it. But what tells you a lot about a team is how they respond after that kind of a situation. And I thought they responded really well.”

The Beavers took a 15-9 lead after one quarter and extended their lead to 32-21 at halftime.

“Obviously our start tonight was huge,” MSU senior forward Holly Johnson said. “We started out hot and got the lead, and obviously we fell behind quickly early Friday. Coach talked a lot about our preparation, and we learned against Mankato you can’t really take anyone lightly, because anyone in the NSIC can win any night. So it felt good to get this win tonight.”

The third quarter was all Beavers, as they outscored the Golden Bears 21-9, letting them coast to victory in the fourth.

Offensively, the highlight of the night was Diondra Denton, who had a game-high 24 points. Denton was 9-of-13 from the floor and shot 6-of-6 beyond the arc and grabbed five rebounds. Her six 3-pointers were tied for the third-most in a single game in program history. Maddie Wald was the last MSU player to have six 3-pointers, which occurred last season against St. Cloud State.

“I was feeling it,” Denton said. “Honestly, the last few games my shot hasn’t been falling. But (Saturday), something clicked. It just felt good after the first one went down so I just kept shooting.”

Three other Beavers were in double figures, including Johnson (16), Wald (13) and Kristal Flowers (12 points, 12 rebounds).

The Beavers shot 49.2 percent from the floor, 10-of-17 beyond the arc and made 3 of 6 free throws.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Beavers’ defensive performance was keeping CSP’s Anna Schmitt relatively in check. Schmitt, the leading scorer in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference entering Saturday’s matchup, scored 15 points and shot 5-of-11 from the floor. As a team, CSP (4-13, 1-10) made 30.9 percent of its shots, 4 of 18 3-pointers and 16 of 23 free throws.

“What we did was we face guarded her,” Graupe said. “When she got rid of the ball, we just turned right to her. We didn’t help or anything. We just decided that she wasn’t going to touch the ball. She had 15 points, but it was a hard-earned 15.”

MSU is back in action against Bemidji State 6 p.m. Friday in Bemidji, Minn.

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