Havre Daily News sports editor
One loss does not a losing streak make. But after its trip to North Dakota this weekend, the Montana State University-Northern men's basketball team is now officially on a losing streak.
The Lights dropped a pair of road games, falling to Minot State on Saturday and Dickinson State on Sunday. The losses were Northern's (7-3) second and third, and their third straight against Dak-10 schools. Northern fell to Valley City State at home eight days ago.
The Lights came into Saturday's game with Minot State a week removed from thrashing the Beavers by 40-plus points in Havre. But MSU-N head coach Shawn Huse knew that things would be different on the Beavers' home floor, and indeed they were.
Minot's offense sizzled and Northern failed to keep pace. The Beavers scorched the Lights with a 50 percent shooting night from the floor, also making 8-of-21 3-pointers to make matters worse.
The Lights shot just 37 percent from the field and were seemingly helpless to stop the Minot State offensive attack.
“I don't think we played poor defense,” Huse said. “But we didn't play as well as we did in Havre.
“You have to give Minot a lot of credit,” he added. “They really shot the ball well and we didn't. That was basically the difference in the game.”
Northern was in foul trouble throughout the second half, which hampered any chances of a comeback, as the Lights already trailed 47-29 at intermission, and they scored 24 points in the second half.
“Foul trouble really hurt us in both games this weekend,” Huse said. “It is tough to come back from a deep hole when you're in foul trouble.”
Four Minot players reached double figures, led by Jeremy Feller with 13 points. He also paced the Beavers in rebounds with a team-high eight. The Beavers got 12 points from Jordan Cooper, all on 3-pointers. Courtney Haley and TJ Collins chipped in with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Senior Marcus Wilson was the only Northern player to reach double digits, with 10 points. Center Yanif Ducreay and point guard Brian Erickson added eight points apiece. The Beaver defense limited MSU-N's leading scorer, Jordan Matthews, to a season-low four points. Matthews' scoring chances were also hampered by foul trouble throughout the game.
“It was a tough night,” Huse said. “We knew it would be, and we didn't respond well. It is always tougher to go down and play a team on their floor, no matter how bad you beat them before.”
Things didn't get much better on Sunday when the Lights were defeated by the DSU Blue Hawks, 89-80. Offensively, the Lights played much better, but DSU's fast-paced style forced the Lights into 20 turnovers, and foul trouble yet again.
“I thought we played much better on both ends of the floor,” Huse said. “But they got what they wanted out of their press because we turned the ball over way too many times. We shoot for no more than 12 turnovers a game, so we had eight too many.”
Dickinson broke open a 42-42 halftime tie early in the third quarter and led by double digits late in the contest. MSU-N made a last-ditch effort to recover and got the game to within four points in the waning minutes. But the Lights lost guard Cory Brothers as well as Erickson to fouls, and that all but thwarted the comeback effort.
“I am glad that we were able to come back on them,” Huse said. “That was a real positive we can take away from this game.
“But foul trouble hurt us again,” he added. “And Dickinson played really well the entire game. They are a very solid team.”
Northern's loss overshadowed a bounce-back night for Matthews. The senior lit DSU up for a game-high 34 points, including four treys. Fellow senior Reid Stovall added 12 points off the bench in the losing effort.
The Blue Hawks got 24 points from Donny English and 17 points apiece from Chad Glasser and Ryan Rostvold. Baker native Derek Miller added 11 points in the nonconference victory.
“This was a tough road trip for us,” Huse said. “But we have a unique opportunity to learn from this and see how much we improve when we come back and play Dickinson State at home on Friday night.”
MSU-N will return home to host the Blue Hawks on Friday at 8 p.m. at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse in.
Beavers 79, Lights 53
MSU-N - Marcus Wilson 10, Yanif Ducreay 8, Jordan Matthews 4, Cory Brothers 7, Brian Erickson 8, Nick Hittner 2, Reid Stovall 2, Cody Gillespie 3, Ronnie Simpson 6, Pathe Yatera 3. Totals: 21-56 8-13 53
Minot State - TJ Collins 10, Courtney Haley 11 Charles Rourk 7, Jordan Cooper 12, Jeremy Feller 13, Tagg Williams 5, Lance Allerdings 6, Jordan Ballard 6, Maurice Wright 4, Tim Brandt 5. Totals: 27-54 17-25 79.
3-point goals - MSUN 3 (Erickson 2, Borthers 1), Minot State 8 (Cooper 4, Ballard 2, Rourk 1, Brandt 1). Rebounds - MSU-N 32, Minot State 39. Total fouls - MSU-N 23, Minot State 16. Fouled out - Matthews.
Blue Hawks 89, Lights 80
MSU-N - Jordan Matthews 34, Cory Brothers 5, Brian Erickson 7, Marcus Wilson 4, Reid Stovall 12, Cody Gillespie 9, Ronnie Simpson 9. Totals: 28-51 16-22 80.
DSU - Donny English 24, Omar Smith 5, Chad Glasser 17, Derek Miller 11, Cory Wehr 2, Denver Bethel 10, Ryan Rostvold 17, Cordero Seymour 3. Totals: 31-62 23-32 89.
3-point goals - MSU-N 8 (Matthews 4, Brorthers 1, Erickson 1, Gillespie 1, Simpson 1), DSU 4 (Glasser 2, English 1, Smith 1). Rebounds - MSU-N 29, DSU 32. Total fouls - MSU-N 27, DSU 21. Fouled out - Brothers, Erickson.