HIBBING—Basketball is a game of run.
Usually one team goes for a string of points, then the other team follows that up with a run of their own.
That didn’t happen in the Minnesota North-Hibbing and Northland Community College men’s basketball game.
Neither team could gain advantage, at least early on, then the Cardinals finally broke through in the second half en route to an 86-70 victory over the Pioneers in an MCAC North Division contest at Dick Varichak Gymnasium Saturday.
For the seven sophomores on the team, they left on a high note on their home floor.
The first half was played in ho-hum fashion as neither team could gain more than a four-point lead throughout the first 20 minutes of play.
“It’s about a difference of styles with how each team plays a little bit,” Hibbing coach Kenzie Krowiorz said. “I think that can cause that situation to happen. You’re trading buckets, or you’re both getting stops.
“They’ve been playing a lot of 2-3 zone against us both times. On the contrary, we’ve played straight man-to-man against them. When we’re good on the defensive end, we’re tough to score against. When we struggle, we give up a lot of buckets.”
Hibbing was in the latter mode of that defensive in the first half.
Northland was getting a lot of points in the paint to take a 41-37 lead.
“We didn’t guard well,” Krowiorz said. “We didn’t guard their cutting action well. We struggled with that. We didn’t struggle with it as much when we went out there. We weren’t tuned in quite as much as I would have liked us to be.
“We were able to turn it around at halftime, flip the switch and get things done. We locked in during the second half and made them take tough shots. We actually rebounded better in the second half, too.”
The run Krowiorz was waiting for happened in the second half when the Cardinals went on a 16-10 run to take a 53-52 lead with 12:45 remaining in the game.
After that, Hibbing went on a 15-3 run to take a 68-55 lead with 8:30 to play.
The Pioneers never recovered from that run.
“That’s when we started to move the basketball a little bit more,” Krowiorz said. “In the first half, we were getting a lot of rotational threes, side-to-side, rotating the basketball to get shots.
“In the second half, we started getting better shots by getting it inside-out, letting the ball move, then attacking driving lanes and getting kick-out threes. Credit our guys. They made shots today. We haven’t had that happen all of the time this year.”
In all, the Cardinals finished with 12 3-pointers, which helped the cause.
“Any time you can make a significant amount of threes, you’re always going to have a good chance,” Krowiorz said.
The ability to do that came down to one thing—patience.
“In the first half, I thought we settled a lot, and we weren’t aggressive and getting down hill,” Krowiorz said. “In the second half, we were able to move the basketball and get enough ball reversals to get ourselves downhill and attack.
Hibbing will finish off its season today, taking on Itasca at 1 p.m. in Grand Rapids.
“We have to go back to our initial game plan that we had against them the first time we played them,” Krowiorz said. “We have to wall up well, contain their shooters and make sure they don’t get offensive rebounds.
“They’re a team that gets inside well. When they can finish at the rim, that tends to open up a lot of stuff for them from the perimeter. If we can contain the bounce, be able to wall up physically and defend without fouling, we always have a chance.”
NCC 41 29—70
MN-H 37 49—86
Northland: Rah Harris 9, AJ Jennings 12, Tyrel Richardson 6, Ashawn Phillips 16, Malic Osei-tutu 14, Jaelin Domingue 13.
Minnesota North-Hibbing: Schuyler Pimentel 18, Alvin Judd 2, Sam Serna 6, Shawn Brown Jr. 12, Owen Smith 3, Conor Goggin 2, Nick Moore 10, Ramaj Gordon 12, Ray Washington-Battle Jr. 17, Colten Pagnac 2, Jan Caceres-Saez 2.
Total Fouls: Northland 15; Minnesota North-Hibbing 11; Fouled Out: None; Free Throws: Northland 8-17; Minnesota North-Hibbing 10-16; 3-pointers: Richardson, Osei-tutu, Domingue 4, Brown Jr. 3, Smith, Moore 2, Gordon 4.
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