Mankato Miracle

Mavericks hit last-second shot to force overtime, end Minot State’s season

Minot State's Nate Moore (0) converts a layup during the Beavers' NSIC Tournament quarterfinal matchup Saturday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. Bridget Larson/SPX Sports

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – This one is going to sting for a long time.

The Minot State men’s basketball team was 3 seconds away from its first-ever NSIC Tournament semifinals appearance. Instead, their season was over in the blink of an eye.

Trailing by three, Minnesota State’s Kevin Krieger made the play of his life, hitting a game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime. Krieger caught a long in-bounds pass, scrambled to get himself in 3-point range and converted an off-balance shot. All within 3 seconds.

“I don’t know if he’d make that shot if you had him take it again with no defenders on him,” MSU coach Matt Murken said. “But he made it when it mattered.”

The Mavericks outscored the Beavers 12-4 in overtime, taking down Minot State 87-79 in the NSIC Tournament quarterfinals at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Bridget Larson/SPX Sports Minot State's Tyler Rudolph puts up a shot Saturday during the Beavers' NSIC Tournament quarterfinal matchup Saturday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.

Minot State’s season ends at 20-10, the 20 wins being the most the Beavers have racked up in their Division II era.

“Tough loss to take,” Murken said. “We were 3 seconds away and they had to make an unbelievable play to tie the game. I just told our guys, sometimes you compete, play your heart out and do everything right, but a guy makes a heck of a play. And boy, did he ever.”

Midway through the second half, it didn’t seem plausible the Beavers to even be in a position where they had the lead. The Mavericks went on a 12-0 run to take a 61-49 lead with 9:32 left, putting the Beavers on the ropes. Then, MSU senior guard Nate Moore took over. Moore scored MSU’s next nine points, sparking the team on a 9-2 run to reduce the deficit to 63-59.

After Mankato’s Charlie Brown hit a mid-range jumper, the Beavers responded with a 6-0 run to tie the game at 65. Moore gave MSU its first lead since early in the first half with a layup at the 1:48 mark, 69-68.

In the first half, NSIC Player of the Year Tyler Rudolph was held to five points, but the 6-foot-6 forward came alive after halftime, scoring 18 in the second half. Trailing by one with 35 seconds remaining, Rudolph hit the floater he’s made so many times in his career to give his team a 73-72 lead. On the ensuing Mankato possession, Krieger had a good look at a 3-pointer in the corner, but couldn’t get it to go. Rudolph was fouled and sent to the free throw line with 11 seconds left and went 1-for-2. Brown couldn’t get a layup to go for Mankato, with Rudolph cleaning up the rebound. Up 74-72, the Bismarck native had a chance to send the Beavers to the NSIC semifinals. An 85 percent free throw shooter, Rudolph uncharacteristically only made one of two yet again.

That set the stage for Krieger’s late game heroics.

“Good pass, fadeaway in the corner and bangs in the three,” Murken said. “It was a dagger, man. They kind of needed a miracle and they got one.”

After allowing a big run to the Beavers in overtime in the two teams’ first meeting on Jan. 12, the Mavericks returned the favor by outscoring MSU 12-4 to seal the victory.

Rudolph had a game-high 23 points and 16 rebounds for a double-double. He finishes his career with 1,987 points and 921 rebounds, the most in Minot State history in both categories.

“It definitely hurts knowing it’s all over,” Rudolph said. “I just want to say I’m proud of our guys because we went out there and competed as hard as they could. I know no one left anything on the line out there, and that’s what I love about our team.”

Moore chipped in 19 points, while Russ Davis recorded 15 points and David Akibo scored 11. The Beavers shot 47.5 percent from the floor, 4-of-13 from beyond the arc while outrebounding the Mavericks 39-37.

Krieger led Mankato (22-8) with 19 points. Four other Mavericks were in double figures, including Brown (14), Chris Kendrix (12), Cameron Kirksey (12) and Cole Harper (10). Mankato shot 45.7 percent from the floor and 8-of-22 from 3-point range.

The Mavericks advance to play Northern State at Noon today in the NSIC Tournament semifinals.

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