MSU men’s basketball drops 94-71 decision to Upper Iowa

Jimmy Lafakis/MDN Minot State freshman guard Kobe Jackson (right) weaves his way around Upper Iowa forward Dylan Jones (left) during the first half of Saturday's game at the MSU Dome. The Peacocks earned a 94-71 victory over the Beavers. 

The Upper Iowa Peacocks offered a challenge to the Minot State University men’s basketball game at the onset of Saturday evening’s game. Upper Iowa wanted to stretch the floor, and the Peacocks dared the Beavers to try and stop them.

MSU (10-14, 4-14 NSIC) could not contain the Peacocks (15-9, 12-6 NSIC) in the second half of the contest. Although the Beavers showed positive flashes in the first half, Upper Iowa countered by winning the second half 57-39.

“I think we’ve grown in a lot of ways since early in the year,” MSU head coach Matt Murken said. “I think we’ve become more consistent on both ends of the floor. We’ve settled into our roles a little bit better. Unfortunately, we didn’t see a lot of that tonight.”

Upper Iowa held a wire-to-wire lead in the affair. The Peacocks shot a robust 13-for-23 (56.5%) on their long-distance attempts.

“I thought our defensive execution and intensity really wasn’t where it needed to be tonight,” Murken said. “They really took advantage of that. They spread us out and made a lot of jump shots from the outside.”

The Peacocks kept the ball popping and recorded 13 assists in the game. Remarkably, five Upper Iowa players (Jareese Williams, Josh Carter, Joe Smoldt, Lucas Daux and Jackson Joens) finished in double figures.

Smoldt also recorded team-highs in rebounds (six) and assists (seven).

MSU senior guard Kyle Beisch led the Beavers with a team-high 24 points.

“Our team is really good when we play a full, 40-minute game,” MSU freshman guard Kobe Jackson said. “We have patches where we don’t trust our system. A few times, we get down on ourselves. That’s when we go bad.”

Jackson contributed seven points, while MSU’s Trevor Rothstein, Max Cody and Kody Dwyer all recorded double-digit scoring totals.

Upper Iowa showed a penchant for hustling to the loose balls. The Peacocks established the rhythm and made the Beavers play at their pace.

“They want to play fast,” Murken said. “In our defensive transition, we didn’t get them slowed down. We need to control tempo more. We did not execute that very well. They scored a lot of two-on-one, three-on-one break situations before we got our defense back. That’s kind of step one. Step two is fighting through their ball screens when they spread you out. Their four guys who can shoot it combined for 11 threes. If they do that, they’re going to be really successful.”

After highlighting Saturday’s most important facet, Murken continued to reflect on potential improvements.

“If you feel like you can win the glass, you have a good opportunity to win the game,” he said. “They beat us on the glass, as well. When we did force misses, they were able to have more offensive rebounds than we had on our end. It’s a bad combination, those three things. It led to a lot of points for them tonight.”

The Beavers will play in two more home games next weekend. MSU will welcome Minnesota Crookston at 7:30 p.m. next Friday.

Jimmy Lafakis covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JJLII30.