By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
Sometimes being patient can be downright painful.
Montana State University-Northern men's basketball coach Shawn Huse knows that his team of new players at a new level is in the midst of a learning process that will bring inconsistency, mistakes and even losses.
The Lights got all three on Sunday with a 92-86 loss to the Minot State Beavers in afternoon action at the MSU-Northern gymnasium.
"You know it's more experience for our guys, and I'm hoping they learn from it," Huse said. "Obviously, it's no fun losing, but at the same time we are trying to build something and it takes time."
With only three players who saw significant playing time returning, Northern's inexperience at the NAIA level showed early.
Minot's stifling 1-1-3 half-court zone trap caused the Lights problems in the first half, forcing them into 16 turnovers and helping the Beavers to a 48-45 lead. The 48 points were the most Northern has allowed in a period this season.
"You look at the scoreboard and see 48 points, but you don't have to wonder how they scored that much," Huse said. "It's because we basically gave them a bunch of points off our turnovers."
That would be 16 points to be exact.
Northern even held one and two-point leads late in the first half but couldn't sustain them.
In the second half, Northern steadily chipped away at Minot's small lead. The Lights finally retook the lead with 13:28 left on Rodrick Carter's three-pointer from the top of the key. A short jump shot from Cody Gillespie pushed the lead to 66-62 with 12:41 remaining, but it would be short-lived. Minot ripped off a 10-0 run, thanks to three-pointers from Lance Allerdings and Charles Rourke, to push the lead 72-66.
"They have some good, physical, athletic guards that pose some matchup difficulties for us," Huse said. "Their guards are as good as anyone in NAIA."
The Lights tried to chip away again at the lead. They got as close as three, when Antonio Jordan hit a running jump shot and true freshman Cory Brothers added 1-2 free throws to cut the lead to 84-81. Minot answered immediately when Courtney Haley scored two of his game-high 20 points on a tough drive to the middle.
Northern still had one last gasp as Reid Stovall sank a pair of free throws and Jordan Matthews knocked home a long three-pointer to cut the lead to 89-86. The Lights were even able to get the ball to set up a game-tying shot, but Carter's pass on the possession got hung up and was grabbed by a Minot defender. Forced to foul, Northern enabled Minot to ice the game away at the free-throw line.
"We didn't do a good job of executing when we needed to," Huse said. "We were in this situation against Dickinson State, but Minot's athleticism really gave us problems."
Northern also didn't do itself any favors, shooting 15 of 21 from the free-throw line in the second half.
Besides Haley's 20 points, Minot got 14 points each from Drew Hysjulien and Jeremy Feller, while Jorsua Chambers added 10 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Northern had five players in double figures with four - Stovall, Matthews, Carter, and Jordan - scoring 12 points each. Brothers added a college career high 11 points in 16 minutes.
"There were plenty of positives," Huse said. "We played very unselfishly and a lot of kids are getting a chance to contribute. It's a tough loss, but I really think we're headed in the right direction as we head toward the conference season."
Northern will see the Beavers later this week as it travels to North Dakota for three games in three days.
MINOT STATE (92)
Drew Hysjulien 5-6 3-3 14; Jorsua Chambers 4-6 2-2 10; Jeremy Feller 5-5 4-6 14; Courtney Haley 8-11 4-6 20; Lance Allerdings 2-7 2-4 7; Quasim Warn 3-5 1-1 7; Charles Rourke 2-8 2-2 8; Jordan Cooper 2-3 0-0 6; Milan Cvetkovic 3-3 0-0 6. Totals: 34-54 18-25 92.
Reid Stovall 3-7 5-6 12; Marcus Wilson 0-4 0-1 0; Jordan Matthews 4-7 2-5 12; Landen Grant 2-3 1-1 6; Antonio Jordan 3-6 4-4 12; Rodrick Carter 3-6 5-6 12; Leo Bullchild 2-3 1-2 6; Cory Brothers 4-7 3-6 11; Cody Gillespie 2-3 0-0 4; Tim Hutchins 4-7 1-1 9; Pathe Yatera 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 28-54 22-32 86.
Halftime score: MSU 48, MSU-N 45. Three-point goals: MSU 6-12 (Hysjulien 1-2, Allerdings 1-2, Ward 0-1, Rourke 2-4, Cooper 2-3), MSU-N 8-19 (Stovall 1-1, Matthews 2-5, Grant 1-2, Jordan 2-3, Carter 1-3, Bullchild 1-2, Brothers 0-3). Rebounds: MSU 23 (Hysjulien 5, Chambers 5); MSU-N 29 (Stovall 6, Wilson 6 ) Assists: 18 (Chambers 5, Allerdings 5); MSU-N 13 (Wilson 4, Matthews 4). Turnovers: MSU 19, MSU-N 23. Total fouls: MSU 26, MSU-N 25. Fouled out - Hysjulien, Hutchins; Technicals - none.