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Wounded MSU men unable to hang with Bemidji State

Alex Eisen/MDN Minot State guard Kyle Beisch (11) attempts a reserve layup against Bemidji State Friday evening at the Minot State Dome.

Playing without a pair of injured starters, Dorian Aluyi and Trevor Rothstein, the Minot State men’s basketball team let Bemidji State get away early and couldn’t recover.

As a result, Minot State (8-14, 3-10 NSIC) dropped a home NSIC contest, 93-82, to its mascot counterparts Friday evening at the Minot State Dome.

Bemidji State (6-11, 3-10 NSIC) had lost 10 out of its last 11 games prior to taking down Minot State. It did so in compelling fashion Friday night by leading wire-to-wire.

“We only had seven guys (playing), but we weren’t tough enough to guard consistently and have enough attention to detail of the scouting report,” MSU head coach Matt Murken said. “Some of that is probably having guys out there who are playing more minutes than are used to… I thought offensively, those guys did fine and showed some of the things they can do. But, (defensively) we locked in on their personnel and our base defensive rules — how we guard certain actions.”

It was raining threes in the first half with the teams combining for 11 made triples. Jacob Hoffman went 4-for-4 behind the arc for Bemidji State.

Bemidji State led by eight points at halftime, 42-34, after shooting 18-for-29 (62.1 percent) from the floor. MSU struggled to contain the scoring bursts.

“Bemidji took advantage inside early with us having three big guys being out,” Murken said. “We allowed that to get us too spread out and we started chasing out at some of their drivers. They then would get into the lane on the bounce.”

MSU rallied late in the second half. After trailing by as many as 14 points, Minot State was within four points, 79-75, with 3:53 remaining.

This was largely in part to the play of senior forward David Akibo. MSU turned to him frequently in the second half, as he scored 21 of his 30 points in the second. The 30 points tied a career-high.

“We had some strange lineups that haven’t played together all year,” Murken said. “I think that limited some of our offensive execution. So, we tried to simplify it and one of the simplest things to do is tell them to throw it inside a lot. Play four around one and see what we can get done that way. We got some good actions out of that and at times David (Akibo) passed the ball well. Creating open shots off kick outs. But, we really wanted to get the ball to the lane and play off that a little more.”

Kyle Beisch and Nibra White, who played a season-high 25 minutes, also scored in double figures with 14 and 13 points, respectively, for Minot State.

“Everybody had to step up,” White said. “We talked about it all week in practice. Everybody needed to step up and fill spots… I think I handled (the extra minutes) well. I just came in and did what I do best. I tried to be active on the defensive end and played with energy.”

Minot State struggled from the floor in the final minutes and resorted to fouling late in the game. Bemidji State calmly sunk free throws to seal up a 93-82 win.

Bemidji State shot 61.8 percent (34-for-55) in the contest with four players reaching double-digits: Derek Thompson (28), Ja Morgan (16), Hoffman (16) and Max Bjorklund (11). They also went 11-for-21 (52.4 percent) on 3-pointers.

Minot State was also deadly behind the arc, shooting 10-for-15 (66.7 percent).

But, MSU’s short bench with two players, was outscored 26-13. All 13 points coming from White.

The timetable for the return of Aluyi and Rothstein is uncertain.

“We are going day-to-day,” Murken said. “It’s the nature of the injuries and we aren’t sure how they are going to respond. It could be sooner or it could be later. Not much we can do about it, except keep getting those guys treatment. I sure hope we get both of them back at some point in time. We will see. We could sure use both of those guys out there.”

Minot State wraps up the weekend against Minnesota Crookston at 5:30 p.m. this evening 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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