Sweet 16

Minot State MBB sets program record for most wins in a season in Division II era

Sean Arbaut/Minot State athletics Minot State's Tyler Rudolph (24) drives to the basket during a men's college basketball game Saturday at the MSU Dome.

Normally, when a Minot State athletic program reaches a new milestone in its Division II history, the athletic department makes sure to tell anyone who will listen.

There’s multiple social media posts and countless applause from administrators and boosters, regardless of how big or small the accomplishment may be.

But this wasn’t the case Saturday.

After its 80-67 win over Concordia St. Paul at the MSU Dome, the men’s basketball team improved its overall record to 16-2, the 16 wins being the most the MSU men have had in a single season in the Division II era. The previous record was 15 in the 2015-16 season.

Yet, no one associated with the team cared. Well, not really.

Sean Arbaut/Minot State athletics MSU's Luis Ricci Maia (11) shoots a mid-range shot Saturday.

At 16-2, the Beavers are on the verge of delivering a season no common fan really believed possible for a Minot State program not named women’s soccer. And with 10 games left in the regular season, that’s really all that’s on the minds of the Beavers, not patting themselves on the back for topping a record that they hope will continue to increase anyway.

“I guess it’s cool,” MSU senior forward Tyler Rudolph said. “Ever since I’ve been here, I guess we’ve continued to improve so reaching this is something we can cross off the list. But we really still need to get better. We’re nowhere near as good as we can be. We have to keep improving each day.”

As for the game itself, the Beavers were coming off an emotional overtime victory against a top team in the NSIC in Minnesota State Mankato, and now had a matchup with one of the league’s bottom feeders in CSP (3-14, 2-9 NSIC).

Yet, CSP – which somehow won an exhibition win against Division I UW Milwaukee earlier this season – didn’t make it easy on MSU.

The Beavers led 40-35 at halftime and saw that lead evaporate with 16 minutes left in the game. Alas, the Beavers survived the second day of back-to-back games, closing on a 36-22 run to move to 10-2 in conference play.

“Playing back-to-backs can be tough,” Rudolph said. “Especially after a big win. We probably had to start a little stronger and bring that energy, but I thought our team was good at fighting through that adversity and bouncing back.”

Rudolph had a game-high 29 points for MSU, extending his double-digit scoring streak to 38 games. He needs 70 more points to pass Paul Harrell (1,826 career points) for the program’s all-time career scoring record.

Meanwhile, senior point guard Luis Ricci Maia followed up a 25-point performance on Friday with 19 points and six rebounds Saturday. Nate Moore contributed 15 points and six assists, while David Akibo scored 11 in the victory.

“If we keep working hard like we are now, it can be a really successful season,” Ricci Maia said. “I’m just glad we were able to come out with a win despite making some turnovers and mistakes we don’t usually make.”

The Beavers shot 47.5 percent from the floor, 8-of-23 from beyond the arc and a perfect 16 of 16 from the free throw line.

CSP shot 39.7 percent from the floor, 6-of-17 from long range and made 11 of 15 free throws.

“Friday was such a big win for us, and after a game like that it always seems like it’s a little bit ugly on the second day,” MSU coach Matt Murken said. “But the best you can do is go 1-0 on any given day. I think this was a game where we can exhale that we got the win, then think about what we can get better on in practice.

“Sometimes we get so caught up in getting better that some people have texted me to remind me, ‘You’re 16-2, enjoy it a little bit.’ Because that’s a heck of a start, and this is a heck of a group to coach right now. We know we’re a long way away from being a finished product, but we’re going to keep working hard.”

MSU (16-2, 10-2) is back in action at 8 p.m. Friday in a road contest against Bemidji State.

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