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Dragons can't overcome late scoring drought as Minnesota-Crookston rallies to victory

Minnesota State University Moorhead's Drew Sannes looks for an opening against Minnesota-Crookston's Emily Gruber and Isieoma Odor at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. David Samson / The Forum1 / 3
Minnesota State University Moorhead's Jacky Volkert shoots against Minnesota-Crookston's Paige Weakley at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. David Samson / The Forum2 / 3
Minnesota State University Moorhead's Megan Hintz reaches for the ball against Minnesota-Crookston's Isieoma Odor at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. David Samson / The Forum3 / 3

MOORHEAD—Minnesota State Moorhead rebounded from a nine-point halftime deficit, but couldn't recover a four-plus minute scoring drought in the fourth quarter.

Minnesota-Crookston got a game-high 21 points from Isieoma Odor to rally past the Dragons late to earn a 69-65 victory Friday night in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference women's basketball at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse before 976 fans.

"Overall, I feel like Crookston played definitely with more energy," Dragons head coach Karla Nelson said. "Offensively, they were able to get some easy baskets and we just had to work for every single thing."

The preseason conference favorite in the NSIC, the Dragons (5-2, 2-1 NSIC) had their five-game winning streak snapped. The Golden Eagles (1-6, 1-2) won their first game this season.

"We have a target on our back and everyone, no matter what their record, they want to beat us," said Dragons senior Cassidy Thorson, who had nine points and five rebounds. "No team is going to be easy. You've got to come out and give it everything you have. You can't come out slow. You can't come out not ready to play."

The Dragons took a 59-53 lead after Thorson drained a 3-pointer with 7 minutes, 22 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. That came after MSUM outscored UMC 23-11 in the third quarter to erase a nine-point halftime deficit.

"In the second half, we came out our focus was defense and that fueled our offense," said Thorson, who scored all nine of her points in the second half.

The Dragons, however, went scoreless for more than a four-minute stretch in the fourth quarter, while the Golden Eagles countered with eight consecutive points. UMC senior guard Micaela Noga capped that rally with a transition layup to give her team a 61-59 with 3:55 to play in the fourth.

"I think we weren't aggressive," Thorson said. "We had turnovers that were unforced. Our chemistry needs to get better on that."

The Dragons tied the game at 65-65 after freshman Lauren Fech sank a baseline jumper with 1:08 remaining. The Golden Eagles, however, scored the game's final four points from the foul line to ice the victory.

Odor hit 1 of 2 free throws to give UMC a 66-65 lead with 43 seconds remaining.

The Golden Eagles shot 50 percent (6 of 12) from the 3-point arc in the first half to help build a 40-31 halftime lead. UMC senior Emily Gruber led the way from long range, sinking three 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes. Gruber scored 10 points in the opening half.

Odor had 12 points before halftime. She gave UMC a 40-29 lead, scoring a basket in the paint with 56 seconds to play in the first half.

"It's a great lesson that you have to show up and play in our league or teams are going to beat you," Nelson said. "I think that's what I happened tonight. I think Crookston wanted to win. ... They're record is deceiving because they've played every team really close."

Junior guard Jacky Volkert nearly had a triple-double for the Dragons, finishing with 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

UMC 21 40 51 69

MSUM 17 31 54 65

UMC (1-6, 1-2): Michaelis 5-11 1-1 12, McWilliams 0-2 3-4 3, Noga 6-11 4-4 18, Odor 8-14 5-6 21, Gruber 4-12 1-2 12, Weber 1-4 0-0 3, Weakley 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 24-56 14-17 69.

MSUM (5-2, 2-1): Thorson 3-10 0-0 9, Fech 4-4 0-0 8, Volkert 6-13 0-1 12, Sannes 6-18 0-0 13, Hintz 5-8 0-0 10, Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Borowicz 2-10 2-2 7, Galegher 0-1 2-3 2, Liegel 0-0 0-0 0, Green 0-0 0-0 0, Swenson 2-4 0-2 4. Totals 28-68 4-8 65.

3-point goals: UMC 7-22 (Michaelis 1-2, McWilliams 0-1, Noga 2-5, Odor 0-1, Gruber 3-8, Weber 1-3, Weakley 0-2), MSUM 5-19 (Thorson 3-8, Volkert 0-3, Sannes 1-4, Borowicz 1-4). Total fouls: UMC 10, MSUM 16. Rebounds: UMC 29 (Gruber 9), MSUM 47 (Sannes 12). Assists: UMC 11 (Michaelis 5), MSUM 14 (Volkert 9). Steals: UMC 9 (Noga 4), MSUM 2 (Volkert, Green). Turnovers: UMC 8 (three players with 2), MSUM 15 (Borowicz 4).

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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