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Kretchman sets career assists record, helps lead Dragons men to victory

Minnesota State Moorhead senior Tanner Kretchman tries to drive around Northern Michigan guard Sam Taylor on Friday at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse. Breana Orlando / MSUM Athletics

MOORHEAD—Minnesota State Moorhead senior Tanner Kretchman became the most giving player in Dragons men's basketball history on Friday night.

The 6-foot guard set a new program record for career assists. Kretchman also poured in a game-high 23 points the lead MSUM to an 84-69 victory against Northern Michigan at the Microtel Classic at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.

"It means a lot," Kretchman said of the assists record. "It's really a testament to the type of players that I've been around. I don't get this if I don't have guys like I have played with in the past that can shoot like we have. Really, I should be thanking those guys."

The Dragons (1-2) shot 56 percent from the field in the second half to earn their first victory this season, while handing Northern Michigan (2-1) its first loss.

"It's going to take some time, but the one thing I did like is I thought we really improved from the first half to the second half, which is what you're looking for," Dragons head coach Chad Walthall said. "That's a step in the right direction."

Kretchman set the MSUM career assists record near the midway point of the first half with a pass that led to a Matt Anderson basket, tying the score at 14-14 with 11 minutes, 18 seconds to play until halftime. Kretchman was tied with Jordan Riewer (2011-15) at 471 career assists entering the game. Riewer is an assistant coach for the Dragons this season.

Kretchman finished with three assists to run his career total to 474. The Fargo Davies graduate is expected to play more at shooting guard this season with sophomore Johnny Beeninga starting at point guard. Kretchman shot 54 percent (7 of 13) from the field against the Wildcats, adding 6-for-6 shooting from the foul line. Dragons head coach Chad Walthall expects Kretchman to be the team's primary scorer this season.

"Tanner will play a lot of point guard, it's just we need Johnny to play and Johnny is really good at point guard," Walthall said "Johnny is going to relieve some pressure off Tanner to have to handle it all the time and score all the time."

The Dragons surged into the lead for good against Northern Michigan, scoring 10 consecutive points in less than three minutes during the second half. Kretchman sparked the rally with a 15-foot jumper with 11:31 remaining. Dragons sophomore Evan Hines capped the run with two free throws that gave the MSUM a 64-54 lead with 9:19 to play.

Hines finished with 18 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Both were career highs for the 6-foot-3 guard from Skokie, Ill.

"He's very capable," Walthall said. "He's a very, very good rebounder when his mindset is that way. That will be huge for us for him to be able to rebound the ball that way."

Kretchman is the only returning player for MSUM that averaged more than 20 minutes per game for the Dragons last season.

"Every game is a complete learning process for us," Walthall said.

Southwest Minnesota State earned a 65-52 victory in the first game of the evening. Mustangs junior Ryan Bruggeman, from Pelican Rapids, Minn., paced his team with a game-high 17 points.

The 6-foot guard finished 7-for-14 from the field and added four rebounds, three assists and five steals.

"I always like these Moorhead games for me, a lot of familiar faces," Bruggeman said. "I've got a lot of good fans that I really appreciate from back home and around this area that came out tonight. ... I got a lot texts and phone calls and looking around the crowd, I saw a lot of faces that I knew. It's always fun."

NORTHERN MICHIGAN (2-1): Taylor 5-13 1-1 12, Tornes 7-17 0-1 17, Johnson 5-13 2-2 14, Carius 5-10 3-4 14, Howard 1-1 1-2 3, Perez 1-3 0-2 3, Mack 0-0 0-1 0, Olayinka 2-4 0-0 4, Fruin 0-1 0-0 0, Matelski 1-1 0-0 2, Prendergast 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-63 7-13 69.

MSUM (1-2): Beeninga 5-9 1-2 12, Kretchman 7-13 6-6 23, Coad 3-9 2-3 8, Anderson 5-7 0-1 10, Park 3-4 0-1 6, Nywesh 1-1 0-0 2, Bussman 1-2 2-2 4, Hines 6-9 3-4 18, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Sevlie 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 31-55 15-21 84.

Half: MSUM 39, NM 33. 3-point goals: NM 8-24 (Taylor 1-4, Tornes 3-8, Johnson 2-5, Carius 1-4, Perez 1-3), MSUM 7-16 (Beeninga 1-1, Kretchman 3-5, Coed 0-2, Anderson 0-1, Bussman 0-1, Hines 3-6). Total fouls: NM 17, MSUM 16. Technical foul: Northern Michigan bench. Rebounds: NM 32 (three players with 5), MSUM 36 (Hines 14). Assists: NM 12 (Taylor 5), MSUM 10 (Kretchman 3). Steals: NM 9 (Taylor 3, Johnson 3), MSUM 6 (Nywesh 2). Turnovers: NM 11 (Carius 4), MSUM 12 (Kretchman 5).

Eric Peterson
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

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