The Minot State University men's and women's basketball teams come into today's doubleheader with the University of Mary in nearly opposite positions.
The men's squad suffered its two worst losses of the season over the weekend after entering the homestand on its first winning streak. The women's team, on the other hand, snapped a five-game conference losing streak with wins over Winona State and Upper Iowa to push its conference record to 4-5.
MSU forward Carly Boag was named the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference player of the week after tying a school record with 37 points against Upper Iowa. The 6-foot-2 junior torched Mary for 31 points in the teams' first meeting this season - a 74-73 MSU win in Bismarck - and figures to be a matchup problem again for the Marauders (10-5, 5-4 NSIC).
Minot State University guard Alisha Jones takes a jump shot against Winona State on Saturday at the MSU Dome. The Beavers host the University of Mary tonight at 6 p.m., with the men’s game to follow.
"She is probably the focal point of our game plan and I don't know if you can totally keep her down," Mary coach Rick Neumann said. "She's just a tough cover for us because we don't match up very well with her. If you put a guard on her she can post up, and if you put a big girl on her she can take her away from the basket and drive. If nothing else we have to make sure she doesn't get any second shots ... because she's tough on the offensive glass."
The Beavers (8-5, 4-5) will look to contain 5-11 forward Shaunna Knife (11.7 points, 8.7 rebounds per game), point guard Ali Collins (15.2 ppg) and the Marauders' potent perimeter attack. Mary ranks second in the conference with 38.5-percent shooting from 3-point range and is third in field-goal percentage (43.5).
But mainly, coach Sheila Green Gerding said, MSU will focus on sustaining the intensity it has shown over the past few games.
"It really just comes with effort, attitude and focus," she said. "I thought the last three games, we've played a lot harder, been on loose balls more and snottier and stinkier on defense. We just do a lot of things better because of our effort."
The MSU men's team suffered a pair of near-30 point losses this weekend, but hosts a Mary team that is also struggling. The Marauders - who defeated the Beavers 77-65 earlier this season - have lost four straight to drop to 2-7 in the conference and 3-10 overall.
In the teams' last meeting, Mary's two leading scorers, Alex Dorr and Josh Turner, combined for 40 points.
"We allowed them to play a little too comfortably," MSU coach Matt Murken said. "They're a really solid team. They have two guys they really rely on for scoring and they both were above their averages against us. We have to do a better job of making those guys work harder for baskets."
Murken said he expects both teams to play with an air of desperation.
"The bottom line is both us of are coming off of two losses so both of us are looking for a win," he said.