Beavers feast on wins at CSU-Pueblo Thanksgiving Classic

Hungry to reclaim a winning record early in the 2022-2023 season, a ravenous core of Beavers bench contributors helped the MSU men’s basketball team devour New Mexico Highlands University and Colorado State University Pueblo over the holiday weekend at the CSU-Pueblo Thanksgiving Classic.

Looking to rebound from a heartbreaking 69-72 loss to rival University of Mary in their Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) opener in Bismarck on Tuesday, Minot State (3-2 overall, 0-1 NSIC) hit the highway and journeyed to Colorado for two games as part of the CSU-Pueblo Thanksgiving Classic.

On Black Friday, the Beavers were shopping for a win to bring their winning percentage on the year to .500 in their first meeting in program history with the New Mexico Highlands University Cowboys.

Bagging 28 of their 38 first-half points in the paint, Minot State utilized an 8-0 run in the final 5:01 of the first 20 minutes of play to build a 38-28 lead over the Cowboys heading into the locker room.

Building on their first-half momentum, the Beavers leaned heavily on defense and bench production to sustain their advantage over New Mexico Highlands University in the second half.

In large part thanks to 19 forced turnovers by the locked-in MSU defense and 25 points accrued as a result of stellar scoring contributions off of the bench, the Beavers never trailed in the final 20 minutes of play, ultimately cementing their 76-69 victory.

Spotlighting his team’s gritty play throughout the contest, head coach Matt Murken would say, “Road wins are always good wins. I’m really proud of the toughness level of our guys considering that we have a few guys banged up and out today.”

Minot High alum Jaxon Gunville led the Beavers in scoring with 18 points from the guard position, while fellow backcourt teammate Khari Broadway paced the team with seven rebounds in the win.

Heading into their second game of the tourney on Saturday, MSU aimed to push their record into winning territory in a matchup against tournament-host and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference opponent Colorado State Pueblo ThunderWolves.

After battling to a 38-38 deadlock to conclude the first half, the Beavers proceeded to cook in the final 20 minutes of play by offering up a taste of their offensive potential via outscoring the ThunderWolves by a 43-30 margin and clinching an 81-68 victory.

Showcasing the level of balanced scoring necessary to succeed as they progress through the remainder of their non-conference and NSIC schedule, MSU saw four players rack up double-digit points on 45-percent shooting from 3-point range en route to the Beavers’ third win of their 2022-2023 campaign.

Cam’ron Dunfee led the Beavers with 23 points, accompanied by contributions of 16 points by Broadway, 15 by forward Connor Hollenbeck, and 10 by forward Caleb Van De Griend, who also paced the team with nine rebounds.

With three starters missing from the lineup in the tournament-finale victory, Coach Murken noted, “This team continues to battle adversity. Every time we’ve had an opportunity, someone else has stepped up. I’m extremely proud of our team and our coaching staff for the adjustments they made.”

Currently sporting an overall record of 3-2 on the season, the Beavers hit the road on Thursday eyeing the chance to raise their conference record to .500 in a battle against NSIC-adversary Minnesota State University Moorhead at 7:30 p.m.


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