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MSU men surrender 18-point lead, fall to Wayne State

The Minot State men’s basketball team appeared well on its way to a convincing win Saturday over Wayne State. How quickly things can change.

Holding an 18-point lead with a little over 13 minutes remaining, the Beavers’ dam began to leak as the chirping from Wayne State head coach Jeff Kaminsky to the officials started to pay off.

Wayne State (17-5, 12-4 NSIC) outscored Minot State (10-15, 5-11 NSIC), 40-16, in the final 13 points for a 85-79 road victory Saturday evening at the Minot State Dome.

The physical affair featured 30 free throws in the second half with a huge momentum swing mixed in when Kaminsky started to get some of the foul calls he had been arguing for throughout the contest.

Once the Wildcats got going, the Beavers quickly found themselves swimming upstream with an ever-dwindling lead.

“You could definitely tell there was a momentum shift,” MSU head coach Matt Murken said. “We were kind of limited with who we could play, as we had some minute restrictions on Dorian (Aluyi). So, we didn’t have a lot of options with changing things up with the personnel. We tried to use a few timeouts to break that momentum. We got it slowed down but, to their credit, they kept hitting tough shots when they needed to.”

The Beavers shot 58.3 percent in the first half (14-for-24), but only led by two points at the break, 39-37.

MSU’s highlight-reel sequence in the first half was a block by Kody Dwyer leading to a fast break that was capped off with a one-handed slam by Drake Jeffries to give MSU a 35-28 lead.

Jeffries, who made what turned out to be the game-winning shot against Augustana on Friday, had a team-high nine points in the first half. But, he was held to two points in the second half, making the only shot he took in the final 18 minutes.

Jeffries (11 points) was one of five MSU players to reach double figures, along with Max Cody (23), David Akibo (15), Kyle Beisch (15) and Aluyi (11). Akibo also grabbed 11 rebounds for a double-double.

The Beavers used a 15-0 run to reach its biggest lead of 18 points, 63-45, five minutes into the second half.

“We made like 6-8 shots in a row and they missed 6-8 shots in a row,” Murken said. “That can make things look a little bit better than maybe what it was. To their credit, (Wayne State) kept attacking and taking the right kind of shots.”

The trio of Kendall Jacks, Vance Janssen and Nick Ferrarini weren’t going to let the Wildcats go down quietly. Jacks used his quickness to get to the rim for 23 points while Janssen and Ferrarini went 7-for-9 on 3-pointers in the contest — both of them finished with 17 points apiece.

A pair of triples by Ferrarini tied the score at 77-77 with two minutes remaining. He then split Minot State’s defense for a layup and was fouled for a three-point play, giving Wayne State an 82-79 lead a minute later.

After Akibo missed an open 3-pointer that would have tied the game, Janssen finished things off with a triple of his own to seal the Wildcats’ 85-79 victory.

“The bottom line, when you are at home and you have guys who are fighting that hard, you got to find a way to help them win that game,” Murken said. “I didn’t do that tonight, so I will take this one. I just love the way our guys are fighting.”

The Beavers will be on the road next week 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.

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