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MSU women hang around, fall short against rival U-Mary

Al Christianson/Special to the MDN Minot State's Gabby Wilkinson (32) takes a shot over U-Mary's Tonya Dvorak (21) in an NSIC women's basketball game Sunday afternoon at the Minot State Dome.

The deficit maxed out at 17 points in the middle of the third quarter.

At that point, the Minot State women’s basketball team could have easily thrown in the towel. But, the Beavers continued to claw and scratch.

Looking to avoid getting swept in the season series with its rival, the University of Mary, MSU fought back to slice the Marauders advantage to single digits.

It turned out to be only a moral victory, for whatever that is worth.

U-Mary (7-2, 5-1 NSIC) held on and closed out the 2018 calendar year with a 67-58 win Sunday afternoon at the Minot State Dome.

Minot State (5-7, 0-6 NSIC) dropped its sixth game in a row and remain winless in conference play.

“There aren’t any happy campers right now, not myself as a coach or the kids,” MSU head coach Mark Graupe said. “It wasn’t a chewing out session (in the locker room after the game), but we talked a lot about fundamentals. Our fundamentals are terrible. Here is an example of a fundamental: Good teams talk and communicate on the floor. We make them pay penalties in practice when they aren’t talking. I just stare them down and sometimes I can be a little intimidating, but my bark is worse than my bite. I get after them and they are talking up a storm. Then, nothing is said. We completely shut down come game time.”

Before communication issues surfaced later in the game, MSU forward Haley Hildenbrand got the best of U-Mary’s leading scorer Gabbie Bohl by scoring the Beavers’ first four points in the paint. That got Bohl’s attention, but she only managed to score 11 points — three points shy of her season-low of eight points — with most her scoring coming in the first quarter.

Regardless, the Marauders had built up a 24-11 lead after the opening quarter.

“We got down too big, too early,” Graupe said. “But, I thought the girls worked hard and made a game out of it.”

The Beavers outscored U-Mary, 16-14, in the second quarter with former Marauder transfer Gabby Wilkinson converting a three-point play in the final minute.

Minot native Cassie Askvig took over the third quarter for U-Mary with nine of her team-high 21 points.

The Marauders’ biggest lead was 44-27 following a made jumper by Macy Williams, who finished with 14 points.

“We led the game for 35 minutes and played pretty well, except for some stretches toward the end of the second quarter and obviously the last three or four minutes of the game,” U-Mary head coach Rick Neumann said. “It was nice to be in a position to hold them off. Sometimes it’s easier to come back than it is to hold somebody off, so I was pleased to see that.”

Not going away, MSU was within eight points with 4:55 remaining on a corner 3-pointer by Whitney Molina.

The Beavers locked down defensively and didn’t allow the Marauders to make a field goal in the last eight minutes of the game.

“We had a little bit of ‘my turn’ as I started to call some plays and whoever I called the play for, they felt like they had to score and we missed some teammates,” Neumann said about his offense going silent in the fourth quarter. “And I didn’t call some great plays. We got some work to do, but we will get that part fixed.”

MSU couldn’t score either.

The score remained stuck on 63-55 for over four minutes before U-Mary was getting intentionally fouled and started making free throws with under a minute to go.

“Points are just hard to come by for us,” Graupe said. “It’s not the offense we run, this or that. We just don’t have the firepower. Like (Cassie) Askvig today was unbelievable and Bohl was the (NSIC) preseason Player of the Year. They got weapons. We try to make up for that in other ways and we talked about that. You have to do the fundamentals. If you don’t have as much talent, then you have to do other things well. We didn’t do that.”

MSU senior guard Madison Wald outscored her former Bishop Ryan teammate Bohl with a team-high 21 points. Mariah Payne added 11 points and Hildenbrand finished with 10 points for the Beavers.

Minot State hosts Minnesota State Mankato (Jan. 4) and Concordia-St. Paul (Jan. 5) next weekend at the Minot State Dome.

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

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