Northern State beats Minot State, headed back to NSIC title game

Northern State will play for a fourth straight NSIC tile on Sunday

Northern State is headed back to the NSIC tournament championship game, as the Wolves held off Minot State 72-63 Saturday at the Sanford Pentagon to earn their way into the finals.

The Wolves will face MSU-Moorhead on Sunday at 4 p.m., where they’ll try to win their fourth consecutive NSIC tournament title. The Wolves improved to 17-1 with the win, and that lone loss came to the Dragons, when the teams split a double header on the final weekend of the season in Aberdeen.

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Mason Stark led Northern State with 22 points, while NSIC MVP Parker Fox had 18 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks, three assists and two steals. The Wolves made just 6-of-22 shots from 3-point range and struggled at the line as well, going 16-of-29, but they grinded out the win in a sluggish game against a pesky opponent.

“I told our guys, ‘We’re getting good looks, at some point we’re going to get into a comfort zone and start making all kinds of shots’, and that time never really came,” said Wolves coach Saul Phillips. “We had that separation run at the end of the first half and early in the second half, but other than that it was just kind of back-and-forth.”

The Wolves led by eight at half and while they briefly threatened to pull away, going up 66-51 midway through the second, the Beavers, led by dynamic forward Melvin Newbern, would not go away. Newbern finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds, while Kody Dwyer added 13 points and Steven Ross six points, eight rebounds and three assists.

Andrew Kallman had 12 points and five assists for the Wolves, who held Minot to 36% shooting, including just 4-of-20 from outside.

As the only team to have beaten the Wolves this season, Moorhead is obviously a legit threat to Northern State in Sunday’s final, but they also should benefit from a day of rest. Moorhead didn’t have to play in Saturday’s semifinals, as their would-be opponent, NSIC South champ Wayne State, was forced to forfeit for COVID-19 issues, sending the Dragons into the finals.

“We had two pretty exciting games up at our place,” Phillips said. “I know they want another piece of us and we want another piece of them. Both games were highly entertaining and so far they’re the only ones to knock us off.”

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