Overtime heroics

Minot State knocks off MSU Mankato 91-83

Garrick Hodge/MDN Minot State's Tyler Rudolph (24) drives to the basket during a men's college basketball game Friday at the MSU Dome.

Minot State men’s basketball has been searching for a statement win all season.

The good news: they earned just that by defeating Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference South Division leader Minnesota State Mankato 91-83 in overtime.

“We wanted to bounce back after that loss against Northern last weekend,” MSU senior forward Tyler Rudolph said. “Mankato was second in the conference, so we knew it was going to be a battle. But we got it done tonight.”

As for the less-than-ideal? It was a wild ride to get there. The Beavers blew a five-point lead with less than 16 seconds remaining, missed free throws down the stretch and committed a costly turnover that led to Mankato tying the game. The Beavers should have won the game in regulation, but give them this: no matter the amount of adversity and how out of control things may seem, MSU refuses to panic and just finds a way to win.

“The biggest things we’ve been better at this year is toughness and believing in each other,” MSU coach Matt Murken said. “I didn’t feel like we did that last Saturday, but we really did those two things tonight. We didn’t always execute, it was ugly at times, but we really showed a lot of toughness to not go away and a lot of belief in each other. Especially those last five minutes in overtime.”

Garrick Hodge/MDN MSU's Nate Moore (0) surveys the passing lanes Friday.

With the win, the Beavers match their program record for most wins in a season in the Division II era with 15. This was also the first time in program history they’ve beaten Mankato (12-4, 8-2 NSIC).

“By winning today, we turn the game against Concordia into a pretty big game,” Murken said. “Right now, the three teams at the top are Northern State, Minot State and Mankato. We’re all done playing each other. So we have to find a way to play with the intensity we played with the last 25 minutes the rest of the year.”

After blowing a 77-72 lead with 15 seconds left, the Beavers went on a 14-1 run to end overtime and escape with the victory. The key play in the overtime was the go-ahead basket from Dorian Aluyi, a freshman who had to step up after starter David Akibo fouled out with 4 minutes left in overtime.

“Everyone knows you just have to come in and do your job on this team,” Rudolph said. “You don’t have to do anything spectacular, that’s what Dorian came in and did. He came in, get a big rebound and powered up and converted an easy shot.”

The Beavers made nine of their first 10 shots, but trailed 36-34 at halftime. The first half saw 10 lead changes, while there were 16 throughout the game.

Four players were in double figures for MSU, including Luis Ricci Maia (25), Rudolph (18), David Akibo (17) and Nate Moore (17). Rudolph also earned his 31st career double-double with 12 rebounds and extended his double figures scoring streak to 37 games.

“We need to work on finishing games down the stretch and having a late-game presence,” Rudolph said. “We struggled with that a little bit, but that’s something we can work on.”

MSU shot 55.2 percent from the floor, 5-of-14 from beyond the arc and made 22 of 26 free throws.

“I have confidence in all of our guys,” Murken said. “From freshmen to sophomores, I’ve seen them all work really hard and make successful plays on a daily basis. I know any of our guys can make a play to help us win. I keep preaching, if you’re on the roster, you better be ready to make a play to help us win a basketball game. Tonight was a great example of that.”

Charlie Brown led Mankato with 14 points, while Chris Kendrix chipped in 15. The Mavericks shot 41.7 percent from the floor, made 7 of 16 3-pointers and were 26-of-33 from the charity stripe

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

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