MSU women rally in the second half to edge out Wayne State
Written on the white board at halftime were various things that only required the Beavers to put forth some effort, like winning 50/50 balls, rebounding, communicating or simply playing with passion.
The Minot State women’s basketball team struggled to do all of those things in the first half Saturday afternoon against Wayne State at the MSU Dome.
“We did nothing that required effort,” MSU head coach Mark Graupe said. “We weren’t playing hard… There were a lot of people in the stands who came from long distances to watch us play. They may not see the best basketball, but they deserve to see effort. That’s what the (halftime) speech was. The people that attended today’s game deserved to see a team play with passion, energy and effort. That’s what we did in the second half.”
The Beavers (10-12, 5-11 NSIC), coming off a tough 61-58 loss Friday against Augustana, turned a sluggish first half into a 69-64 come from behind victory Saturday against WSU (13-9, 8-8 NSIC).
“It’s not about me, but I couldn’t sleep last night and took two sleeping pills. I was just a mess,” Graupe said. “(The Augustana loss) bothered me that much. I know it was a quality opponent, but it was the lack of execution on offense. We could have had a sweep this weekend… But, it’s nice to see (a close game) go our way because we deserve it. We have had a lot that have went the other way.”
A low-scoring first quarter finished narrowly in Wayne State’s favor, 11-10, with both teams struggling from the floor — shooting a combined 23.5 percent (8-for-34).
“We started off pretty slow,” MSU guard Mariah Payne said. “The halftime talk really motivated us.”
Back-to-back long 3-pointers by Wayne State senior forward Andrea Larson had the Wildcats pulling away, 27-16, late in the second quarter.
Wayne State’s advantage stayed in double figures, 31-21, heading into halftime. MSU shot 28.6 percent in the first half with nine turnovers.
“There are only three weeks and nine practices left. That’s it for the regular season,” Graupe said. “So, I said, ‘Is this the way you are going to go down? Aren’t you going to go down swinging and fighting?’ That’s what we talked about (at halftime). It wasn’t me breaking a white board or slamming my fist. But pointing out that there was no excuse for that, for not doing those non-talent things.”
MSU looked like a new team coming out of the locker room. Four Beavers scored in a 12-2 run to even the score at 33-33 less than four minutes into the third quarter. Junior guard Raegan Sanchez also found herself in the lineup for the third time in the last month.
“Raegan (Sanchez) never gets to play, but I know she plays hard,” Graupe said. “So, we tried to send a message that we needed everyone. That was the difference in the game. When we started the second half, those ladies played hard and got the game right back to even.”
Minot State took its first lead since going up 4-2 early with a corner 3-pointer by Kari Clements with 9:30 remaining in regulation, 49-48.
From that point on, the teams went back-and-forth, trading buckets and the lead.
Senior Madison Wald made two critical baskets — a turnaround in the lane off glass and a 3-pointer — to keep the Beavers within a point, 61-60.
Then, it was Payne who stepped up for the Beavers. Coming off the bench with under two minutes to play, Payne sunk a wide-open 3-pointer and then went coast-to-coast for a layup to give MSU a 65-64 lead with 41.9 seconds left.
“I have to give credit to the girls, I just came out and knocked some shots down,” Payne said. “It was a team effort.”
Delsman made two clutch free throws on the Beavers’ next possession to force Wayne State into a 3-pointer to tie the game. MSU held firm, Payne made two more free throws and the Beavers walked away with 69-64 win after trailing by 11 points in the second half.
Four MSU players finished in double figures: Delsman (14), Clements (12), Payne (11) and Wald (11). Whitney Molina also nearly had a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds.
Wayne State was led by Erin Norling with 18 points.
“After yesterday, a game we should have won, this one takes a lot off the shoulders,” Delsman said. “We needed to split this weekend, if not sweep. So, there is a lot of relief after (what happened) in the first half.”
The Beavers are on the road next weekend against Winona State (Feb. 8) and Upper Iowa (Feb. 9).
Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.