When the Minnesota Duluth and Minot State women's basketball teams squared off earlier this month, Duluth was bailed out.
MSU's top two scorers - Sacarra Molina and Carly Boag - combined for just nine shot attempts as the Bulldogs won on their home court.
Saturday's game was a different story.
Molina and Boag took 29 shots and combined for 46 points in a 52-51 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference victory at the MSU Dome.
Duluth had a chance to win, though, after MSU junior guard Alisha Jones missed a pair of free throws with seven seconds remaining. Bulldogs sophomore Danielle Flood dribbled upcourt and spun out of trouble before hoisting a 14-footer that missed off the back rim.
MSU coach Sheila Green Gerding said the Beavers' reliance on Boag and Molina wasn't by design. They just happened to be the players most capable of getting quality looks against Duluth's stingy defense, which held MSU to 28 percent shooting.
"We were just a little out of sync offensively and we didn't really flow into anything, so our playmakers stepped up," Green Gerding said. "That's just having good patience by your other kids in getting the ball where it needed to be. Because we didn't move the ball a whole lot."
Boag finished with a team-high 24 points and a game-high 18 rebounds. Her work on the glass was particularly key, as the Bulldogs pounded MSU for 23 offensive rebounds in their last meeting. The Beavers won the battle of the boards 48-37 on Saturday and held UMD to five offensive rebounds.
"They're the best offensive rebounding team in the league and we held them to five," Boag said. "We did that well, we boxed out well and we put (free throws) in when we had to."
That was the formula the Beavers (9-9 overall, 5-9 NSIC) used to stay in the game despite an ugly shooting night. MSU shot 30 free throws (and hit 20), while Duluth knocked down 11-of-14. Molina was particularly effective at getting to the stripe, hitting 10-of-13 en route to 22 points.
Duluth (10-8, 7-7) led for most of the game as Katrina Newman wasted no time getting going.
The 5-foot-11 wing scored 13 of her game-high 26 points in the opening 10 minutes as UMD raced out to a 23-10 advantage, its largest lead of the game.
But MSU got back into the game by contesting the majority of the Bulldogs' attempts and forcing 11 first-half turnovers. UMD opened the game 9-of-17 from the floor, but hit just two of its final 12 shots of the period.
The Beavers pulled as close as one point before heading into the locker room facing a 29-24 deficit.
MSU took its first lead of the game with 9:09 remaining, and the teams traded a couple of baskets before a 7-0 individual run by Boag gave the Beavers a 47-43 lead with 3:44 to go.
"Defensively, our communication was good," Molina said. "We just kept digging and digging. We were behind the majority of the game but we kept digging at it. We finally (hit) some shots and we got to the free-throw line."
MSU strung together three consecutive stops in the game's final minutes to maintain the lead. Senior guard Lauren Safranski came up with a steal that led to Francesca DeAngelis knocking down 1-of-2 free throws. Then Boag capped off a crucial defensive possession with a strong rebound in traffic, and followed that up by taking a charge on the Bulldogs' next trip.
A Newman 3-pointer with 12.7 seconds set up the final sequence that ended with Flood's missed buzzer-beater.
The Beavers host Concordia-St. Paul and Minnesota State-Mankato on Friday and Saturday, respectively.