Beisch, Beavers bounce back to claim second NSIC win

Alex Eisen/MDN Minot State forward David Akibo looks to pass out of a Concordia-St. Paul double team Saturday evening at the Minot State Dome. Akibo scored 20 points, 16 in the second half, in a 88-75 victory for the Beavers.

Minot State junior guard Kyle Beisch brushed off missing a game-winning shot Friday night to drop a season-high 23 points Saturday and helped the Beavers win their second conference game of the season.

MSU (7-10, 2-6 NSIC) leaned on its sharpshooter at times and made the little plays in crunch time to knock off Concordia-St. Paul (6-8, 1-7 NSIC), 88-75, at the Minot State Dome.

“I told (Kyle Beisch) last night, if we are at the end of the game, tie game and we have that shot to win, then we are going to win about 20 games,” MSU head coach Matt Murken said. “I think everyone was kind of shocked last night when he missed it. I know he is really good shooter and a big shot maker. But, he missed it, and didn’t really faze him. He is as competitive as they come.”

Beisch and redshirt freshman Drake Jeffries each made five 3-pointers. As a team, the Beavers made 14 3-pointers (tied for third-most in MSU’s Division II history) on 31 attempts from deep (also ranks third-most in MSU’s DII history).

MSU wasn’t necessarily looking to launch from behind the arc. That’s just what Concordia’s zone defense offered up.

“Watching Concordia play zone last night (on film) with our coaching staff, I was hoping they would play a lot of zone again tonight,” Murken said. “That gives (Beisch) and Drake (Jeffries) a chance to get going. Then, they combine to make 10 threes tonight. Ten minutes into the game, I was doubting my wish to see zone when we were down by 15 points. But, those guys found a rhythm and we were able to move the ball a little bit better.”

The Beavers trailed for a majority of the first half after the Golden Bears went on an early 14-1 run. Beisch pulled the Beavers back in with four 3-pointers in the first half for a team-high 14 points at the break. CSP led by as many as 15 points in the first half.

MSU could have taken a two-point lead into halftime on a 3-pointer by Max Cody but committed a costly foul at the buzzer. Jeffries got into Bryndan Matthews, who threw up a desperation triple in the final second. Matthews made two out of the three free throws to even the score at 39-39 going into halftime.

Concordia shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, but the Beavers made four more 3-pointers.

“We changed a little bit of our zone offense,” Murken said. “It was tweak we knew we might needed to make. Midway through the first half, we switched some positions on the court and where guys were playing at. I think that opened some thing up. Happy we got things going.”

Murken, urging his team to make more “winning plays” in the second half, was given a scare halfway through the second half when Trevor Rothstein went down with an injury. The junior forward didn’t post an eye-catching stat line, but was all over the floor for the Beavers.

“I’m tired right now, I’m not going lie,” said Rothstein, who played a season-high 33 minutes. “I’m not used to playing these kind of minutes… I just hyperextended my knee a little bit when that dude ran into me. But, I’m all good now. Going to ice up and be back for next weekend, for sure.”

Murken added: “(Rothstein) has been hurt enough that anytime he goes down, you hold your breath. You know he is a tough kid, so you probably expect him to come back (into the game). It’s just a matter of how his body bounces back the next couple of days.”

Rothstein was back on the floor shortly after getting evaluated by the medical staff.

MSU’s leading scorer David Akibo scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half. He put Minot State up 10 points, 74-64, with an open 3-pointer off a favorable scramble for an offensive rebound.

Concordia’s 6-foot-9 center Cody Carlson, who was tasked with guarding Akibo at times, fouled out with 4:27 remaining. He finished with a double-double (11 points and 11 rebounds).

A pair of triples by Jeffries and Beisch, fading away with a hand in his face, effectively sealed Minot State’s victory.

“My teammates just had a bunch of confidence in me,” Beisch said. “After I missed (Friday’s shot), everyone said that was the shot that we wanted. I believe the next time — well, every time I shoot it — it is going in.”

The Beavers are on the road the next two weeks. MSU will face St. Cloud State (Jan. 11) and Minnesota Duluth (Jan. 12) next weekend.

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