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MSU battles past DSU: Beavers hit 35 free throws to defeat Blue Hawks in an exhibition game

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Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson State senior Isiah Thomas, left, fights for a rebound against Minot State junior Thomas Kopf, middle, and Samuel Johnson, left, during an exhibition game on Wednesday at Scott Gymnasium. The Beavers won 79-70.2 / 2

“Let the boys play,” rang through the Scott Gymnasium Wednesday night.

The Dickinson State men’s basketball team opened its season with a 79-70 loss against its old Dakota Athletic Conference rival Minot State in a game plagued with penalties.

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Both teams combined for 67 fouls as DSU committed 38. With 11 minutes left in the first half, both teams reached 10 fouls each and by the start of the second half every player on the court had at least one.

The fouls proved to be the nail in the coffin for the Blue Hawks and the key for the Beavers. At the free throw line, Minot State made 35 of 51 shots, those 35 points totaling for almost half of its final score.

“It’s something that you have to adjust to, it’s different every game,” DSU senior guard Robbie Morey said. “I thought after we got into the game a couple minutes, we adjusted better and we started figuring everything out the way they were calling the game and eventually got it figured out.”

Despite the foul troubles, DSU held its own against the Division II Beavers, keeping it within one to two points and its biggest deficit by four points in the first half. In the second half, the game got away from the Blue Hawks — at times — falling behind in larger deficits and not following the game plan the team had going into the game.

The Beavers opened their lead by 10 points after being on top by a point and outscored DSU 13-3 to end the game.

Minot State’s players were able to offensively and defensively capitalize on DSU’s lulls. The Beavers had five players with double-digit points. Junior forward Thomas Korf led with 17 points, followed by senior guard E.J. Williams with 14 — 12 of those came in the second half — senior forward Samuel Johnson and junior guard Adam Randall each added 12 and freshman guard Nathan Merterns scored 11.

“The times when we messed up are the times when we got away from what coach said and the times we did do good is when we did what coach said,” DSU junior forward Tevin Russell said. “So just sticking to our game plan is what it was. The times we were doing the right things is when we were executing the right way and working on what we do in practice every day.”

Besides the lapses in consistency, head coach Ty Orton was extremely pleased with the team’s first performance of the season and how they handled themselves on the court.

“For our first game, we did some really good things,” Orton said. “What I’m really impressed with is we made game-time adjustments and the kids just stepped on them and they did great things with the adjustments.”

It’s been a long time since Russell played on the court and he made his debut one to remember. Russell finished with a team-high 24 points, made four of his five 3-pointers and made crucial baskets when needed.

While down 53-61 in the second half, Russell scored back-to-back baskets to put the Blue Hawks within three. Afterward, he tied the game up twice and scored the final basket of the night for the team, making it 73-70.

“Tevin has the ability to just take over a game and play,” Orton said. “We needed to keep him out of foul trouble, he got caught in a couple of help situations … Tevin is just a strong player and we got some guys that can really take over some games and really do some things.”

The Blue Hawks got a strong performance from not just their starters, but their bench as well. The starters scored 39 points and the bench finished with 31. Orton was impressed with senior forward Isiah Thomas’ performance, who led the team with seven rebounds and also had 10 points. Even senior guard Brock Boos, who hurt his ankle in Tuesday’s practice, was able to play through the pain and scored three points.

“It’s playing with heart and I think that’s something we really did well tonight,” Orton said.

The Blue Hawks host South Dakota School of Mines in an exhibition at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Wednesday’s performance was a good measuring stick for the Blue Hawks and know exactly what needs to be worked on to move closer to the team’s first win.

“They’re just a fundamentally sound team and play hard so we have to execute, that’s the biggest thing,” Morey said. “We have to follow our game plan to a tee and just come out and do everything we’re supposed to do.”

Minot State (1-0): Chris East 1-3 4-4 6, E.J. Williams 2-4 9-11 14, Adam Randall 4-7 4-6 12, Thomas Korf 5-9 4-4 17, Lazar Boskovic 1-1 1-2 3, Samuel Johnson 3-9 6-12 12, Matthew Ward-Hibbert 0-1 0-0 0, Nate Brandt 1-2 0-0 2, Nathan Mertens 2-2 7-12 11, Dan Yale 0-0 0-0 0, Matt Yale 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 20-39 35-51 79.

Dickinson State (0-1): Robbie Morey 1-5 1-2 4, Brock Boos 1-4 1-2 3, Phillip Johnson 2-7 2-2 6, Tevin Russell 10-15 0-0 24, Mackenson Odenier 1-3 0-0 2, Ty Ackleson 3-8 3-5 12, Jeremy Beehler 0-0 0-0 0, Juston Goodwin 0-0 0-0 0, DeSean Atkins 4-6 1-5 10, Isiah Thomas 2-4 0-1 4, Jeremy Samuelson 0-0 2-4 2, Marko Potkonjak 0-1 1-2 1, Jacob Volk 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 25-55 11-23 70.

Halftime: Minot 35, DSU 34. Total fouls: Minot 29, DSU 38. Technical fouls: Minot (Samuel Johnson), DSU (Coach, Tevin Russell). Fouled out: DSU (Phillip Johnson, Russell) 3-point goals: Minot 4-10 (Thomas Korf 3-6, E.J. Williams 1-1, Adam Randall 0-1, Johnson 0-2), DSU 9-20 (Russell 4-5, Ty Ackleson 3-4, Robbie Morey 1-5, DeSean Atkins 1-1, Brock Boos 0-3, Marko Potkonjak 0-1, Jacob Volk 0-1). Rebounds: Minot 35 (Chris East 13), DSU 30 (Isiah Thomas 7). Assists: Minot 9 (Nathan Mertens 5), DSU 14 (Volk 3). Steals: Minot 5 (Johnson 2), DSU 11 (Morey 2). Blocks: DSU 1 (Volk 1). Turnovers: Minot 24 (East 4, Williams 4), DSU 18 (Phillip Johnson 4).

Meaghan MacDonald

Meaghan is the sports page designer and copy editor for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.  After graduating from James Madison University (Va.) in May 2013, she moved from New Jersey to North Dakota to start pursuing her career in sports journalism and was a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press and covered Dickinson State athletics. Meaghan has been working for the Forum since June 2015.