MSU women crumble in crunch time against Marauders

Alex Eisen/MDN Minot State sophomore forward Haley Hildenbrand (22) reaches for a loose ball Saturday afternoon against the University of Mary in Bismarck. The Marauders won 64-58.

BISMARCK — Coral Gillette buried five 3-pointers, including a first half buzzer beater, to help the University of Mary Marauders sink the Minot State Beavers, 64-58, in an NSIC conference opener Saturday afternoon in Bismarck.

While the Minot State women’s basketball team (5-2, 0-1 NSIC) hung around and didn’t necessarily let Gillette’s daggers finish it off, a rocky final few minutes was enough to do the Beavers in.

U-Mary (3-1, 1-0 NSIC) kept its composure, as MSU’s foul count purposely rose with the clock winding down.

“The last two minutes were a total nightmare,” MSU head coach Mark Graupe said. “What happened was we had three team fouls and we were down by three or four. So, I wanted to foul. They aren’t in the bonus, so I want to use them just in case we have to foul in the last 20 seconds. So, I’m yelling foul, foul and foul. It was like seven times we had chances to foul and we didn’t.

“Then, we go and just shove a girl and get an intentional foul, which is like a technical with two shots and the ball back.”

That effectively wrapped up the victory for the Marauders, much to the dismay of Graupe.

“If I’m yelling foul, you foul,” Graupe said. “I’ve always been told that I have a great gym voice, so I’m loud… You don’t even have to think about the game, just foul. Then, when I tell them not to foul and play straight up, that’s all you have to do.”

Those late mistakes equaled a frustrating defeat for Beavers after they had battled back time and time again.

The Marauders jumped out to a 9-0 lead with Minot native Gabbie Bohl pounding the paint for six early points.

“I love playing in rivalry games,” said Bohl, who was recruited by Minot State when coming out of Bishop Ryan. “I did it all through high school and now I’m doing it through college. It was just a fun atmosphere.”

MSU brushed off its early jitters and stormed back behind the play of Kari Clements. She made a 3-pointer for the Beavers first points and converted an and-one to put the Beavers in the lead, 10-9.

The first quarter, however, was settled on another Marauders’ run, 7-1, to give U-Mary a 16-11 lead. The Beavers, with an emphasis on backdoor cuts, answered with a 9-0 run to take the lead back, 20-18, in the second frame.

Taking on the feisty underdog role, MSU wasn’t going to let U-Mary run away with the win.

“They were picked sixth (in the NSIC preseason poll) for a reason and we were picked 14th,” Graupe said. “They have way more talent than we do. That’s the bottom line, and that’s what the coaches look at: talent. Since they have more talent and we are on the road, we have to do things right and, for the most part, I thought we did.”

Tied at 27-27, U-Mary held the ball for the last shot of the half and, with a hand in her face, Gillette drained a 3-pointer to send the pumped up Marauders into the locker room with the lead.

“Coming out of the timeout, (Gillette) looked at Jordyn Jossart and said, ‘You shoot it,'” U-Mary head coach Rick Neumann said. “I said, ‘Are you kidding me? You shoot it, make it and you’ll have a great second half.’ So, for once, the coaching comes through.”

Gillette scored 15 of her game-high 18 points in the second half. When she wasn’t knocking down triples, the Marauders’ offense went inside to Bohl and Lexie Schneider.

Bohl finished with a double-double (15 points and 10 rebounds), while Schneider added nine points and nine rebounds.

“Us communicating and being a tougher team on defense, getting stops, securing the ball and knocking down free throws,” Bohl said was the Marauders recipe for success down the stretch.

Deadlocked at 46-46 through three quarters, the Beavers took their final lead on a Calli Delsman put back, 49-48.

Back-to-back triples from Gillette and another from Minot native Cassie Askvig had U-Mary up 57-51 with three minutes remaining.

“We had some blown defensive coverages when we went zone,” Graupe said. “Some total mental lapses there.”

The Beavers couldn’t slow the Marauders down by fouling. U-Mary went 15-for-19 on free throws to seal the conference-opening win.

MSU shot better from the floor (35.9 percent to 34.5 percent), but U-Mary made six more 3-pointers.

Three Beavers finished in double figures: Clements (18), Haley Hildenbrand (12) and Madison Wald (11). Whitney Molina pulled down a team-high nine rebounds.

MSU returns home to face Minnesota Duluth next on Friday at 5:30 p.m.

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