Unable to finish

U-Mary slips past Minot State in NSIC opener

Alex Eisen/MDN Minot State junior guard Kyle Beisch (11) being guarded by University of Mary junior Johnnie Turner (1) in an NSIC men's basketball game Saturday evening in Bismarck.

BISMARCK — Despite only scoring four points in the first 10 minutes, the Minot State men’s basketball team still had an opportunity to knock off its in-state rival, the University of Mary, Saturday evening on the road at the McDowell Activity Center in Bismarck.

Last tied at 52-52 with 3:55 remaining, the Marauders (3-3, 1-0 NSIC) finished put backs and locked down the Beavers (5-5, 0-1 NSIC) to open the conference season with a hard-fought 65-58 victory.

MSU at least made things interesting and didn’t back down after a rough start.

“Well, we made a nice run to get back,” MSU head coach Matt Murken said. “We started slow and looked a little tentative on the road. We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole.”

All the Beavers had to show for their effort in the first 10 minutes were two layups made by David Akibo.

Alex Eisen/MDN MSU senior forward David Akibo (15) looks over at his bench after being called for a foul Saturday against the University of Mary.

Nonetheless, U-Mary didn’t pull away and only managed to build a seven-point cushion, 11-4. Shortly after, MSU sophomore Dorian Aluyi started to heat up and take flight.

Aluyi put down his first dunk in front of former Minot High School standout Justin Engg, who was late with his help-side defense, to get MSU within two points at 20-18.

U-Mary didn’t let that faze them, and the Marauders took a 26-20 lead into halftime.

“You almost have to be perfect because there isn’t a lot of room for error when you are battling back,” Murken said. “It’s not ideal. We weren’t aggressive offensively in the first 10 minutes. But, on the flipside, in the last 30 minutes we scored 54 points. That’s probably plenty.”

Aluyi got more hang time with 9:41 remaining in regulation. This time he posterized Tom Kubank and drew the foul. Aluyi made the free throw to tie the game at 42-42. He finished with 15 points to go with his highlight reel clips.

Kubank, however, got the last laugh. He scored five out the Marauders last 13 points, including a clutch 3-pointer that started U-Mary’s game-winning push.

“I thought we forced them to take some contested shots, especially in the last 6-8 minutes,” Murken said. “But, we didn’t finish those plays with rebounds. We guarded their first opportunity really well, but they had like six second chance points that were really back breakers down the stretch.”

U-Mary went 25-for-58 from the floor (43.1 percent), while MSU was a tick worse at 21-for-51 (41.2 percent). The main difference came on the boards (36-27 rebound advantage for U-Mary) and second chance points (9-3, U-Mary).

“We guarded well enough,” Murken said. “We had a few breakdowns there in crucial moments. With the way we guarded, if we win the glass, then we are in good shape.”

Akibo led MSU with 16 points and seven rebounds. Max Cody had 12 points and six assists.

The Marauders got double-digit scoring from Jaylan White (15), Matthew Kreklow (14) and Kubank (14).

Looking to bounce back, the Beavers take on Minnesota Duluth at 7:30 p.m. Friday evening at the Minot State Dome.

Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.