If Friday's season opener is any indication, Minot State University's frontcourt is as good as old.
Former starters Katie Hardy and Christina Boag returned from injury-induced redshirt seasons to combine for 21 points and 11 rebounds against South Dakota Mines. Senior forward Carly Boag, Christina's twin, completed the inside dominance with game highs of 21 points and 11 rebounds as the Beavers throttled the Hardrockers 75-49 at the MSU Dome.
"I still got a few jitters, I was still a little rusty, but it's good to be back," said Christina Boag, who fouled out with 13 points, four rebounds, four steals and two blocks. "It's been a while."
South Dakota Mines guard Alexis Long looks to pass after grabbing a loose ball in front of Minot State sophomore Amanda Sansaver (5) on Friday at the MSU Dome.
Each member of the starting frontcourt carried MSU (1-0) for stretches.
Hardy was steady early, scoring six points in the first 11 minutes as the Beavers struggled with turnovers.
After the rocky start, MSU gained separation. Christina Boag and senior Alisha "Speedy" Jones knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Beavers a 22-13 lead with 6 minutes, 24 seconds remaining in the opening half.
Mines responded by earning trips to the foul line on its next three possessions, cutting the margin to six. But Carly Boag scored 10 points in less than three minutes to help MSU take a 34-21 advantage into the locker room.
"That's what great players do," MSU coach Sheila Green Gerding said. "They're the ones that are gonna close a gap or create a gap for you. They're going to have their moments and I just think that was her moment."
MSU went on an 8-0 spurt to open the second half and led by 20-plus points for the final 16:30.
Mines (0-1) had no answer for MSU's formidable front line, which was as disruptive on defense as it was prolific on offense. The Hardrockers shot just 26 percent from the field as MSU locked down the inside with the 6-foot-2 Boags, 6-foot Katie Hardy and 6-3 reserve Savana Kingsbury. MSU shot 41 percent and 21-for- 29 from the free-throw line.
"Our wingspans can pretty much cover the whole key," Hardy said. "If we keep it out of the middle, teams are gonna really struggle against us."
Said Green Gerding: "I thought all four of our bigs did a good job defensively tonight. Mines' kids work really work hard and constantly fight for position so we had to be on our toes and constantly moving and getting to help side."
Mines was led by Mackenzie Kenney and Devyn Asche, who finished with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The Beavers got solid contributions off the bench from guards Alex Haley (eight points), Amanda Sansaver (five assists) and Diondra Denton (six points, three rebounds).
The most encouraging sign for the Beavers, though, was their inside players playing well in their first regular-season game together in nearly 21 months.
"It was good execution because this year we're trying to make posts the emphasis of our team," Christina Boag said. "(The NSIC) is a rough conference and we know we can match up."
MSU hosts Jamestown at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Daniel Allar covers Minot State University athletics.
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