No. 13-ranked Northern State uses big first half to cruise past the Dragons

MOORHEAD-No. 13-ranked Northern State erupted for 53 points in the first half Tuesday night and Minnesota State Moorhead couldn't recover.The Wolves had six different players score in double digits and cruised to an 89-70 victory against the Drag...
Minnesota State Moorhead guard Travaun Coad goes up for a layup against Northern State on Tuesday at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse. Breana Orlando / Dragons Athletics

MOORHEAD-No. 13-ranked Northern State erupted for 53 points in the first half Tuesday night and Minnesota State Moorhead couldn't recover.

The Wolves had six different players score in double digits and cruised to an 89-70 victory against the Dragons in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men's basketball at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.

"They're just a great team and they're a great defensive team," Dragons head coach Chad Walthall said of Northern State.

The Dragons (4-8, 2-4 NSIC) have lost three consecutive games, including back-to-back losses against Northern State. The Wolves (12-0, 6-1) earned a 95-74 victory last Friday when the two teams played in Aberdeen, S.D.

The Dragons are off until Dec. 30 when they travel to Minnesota State-Mankato.

"We've had a brutal schedule up to this point and we've just got to hang in there and keep fighting," Walthall said.

The Wolves raced to a 25-point halftime lead, shooting 69 percent (20 of 29) from the floor over the first 20 minutes. Northern State shot 62 percent (8 of 13) from 3-point range in the first half. The Wolves had six different players score at least six points by halftime.

Northern State junior guard Ian Smith led the way in the opening half, scoring 12 points with 3-for-4 shooting from 3-point range.

The Dragons shot 43 percent (12 of 28) from the floor in the first half, trailing by as many as 26 points before halftime.

"We've got a bunch of new guys, they've been playing with each other forever," Dragons junior Addison Park said. "Obviously, it carries over and shows on the court."

MSUM shot better in the second half, making 59 percent (17 of 29) from its shots from the floor. The Dragons, who never led, got as close as 15 points of the lead on multiple occasions after halftime. MSUM cut the Northern State lead to 69-54 after a Travaun Coad layup with 9 minutes, 25 seconds to play in the second half.

"We kept playing and we're not going to get hung up on the results right now," Walthall said. "We're going to try to improve and try to enjoy the process. This team is going to get better."

Park paced the Dragons with 16 points and six rebounds. The 6-foot-8 forward shot 64 percent (7 of 11) from the field. Park took hard foul with less than seven minutes to play in the second half. Northern State senior Logan Doyle was called flagrant foul and ejected from the game with 6:39 remaining.

"He probably didn't mean to do it," Park said. "If he meant to do it, shame on him because they were up by a lot and he's a better player than that and he doesn't need to do stuff like that. But I'm sure he doesn't mean anything by it, both teams were just playing hard."

Park was encouraged that the Dragons played better after halftime.

"We played a lot better in the second half and just had a little more fight and a little more fire," Park said. "We never gave up and we kept going and it and kept going at it."

NSU (12-1, 6-0 NSIC): Smith 3-9 3-3 12, Pollard 3-8 6-7 13, King 4-9 2-2 14, Peterka 6-7 0-0 15, Doyle 8-10 3-3 19, LeGrand 0-0 0-0 0, Kallman 0-0 0-0 0, Fries 1-2 0-0 3, Decker 0-0 0-0 0, Dahl 0-2 0-0 0, Evans 6-7 1-1 13, Kranhold 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-54 15-16 89.

MSUM (4-8, 2-4): Beeninga 3-6 0-0 6, Kretchman 5-14 0-0 14, Bussman 2-3 2-2 6, Sevlie 2-2 0-0 4, Park 7-11 2-3 16, Coad 3-7 0-0 6, Nywesh 2-5 0-0 6, Anderson 0-2 0-0 0, Johnson 5-7 0-0 12. Totals 29-57 4-5 70.

Half: NSU 53, MSUM 28. 3-point goals: NSU 12-25 (Smith 3-6, Pollard 1-4, King 4-8, Peterka 3-4, Fries 1-2, Dahl 0-1), MSUM 8-21 (Beeninga 0-1, Kretchman 4-9, Bussman 0-1, Park 0-2, Coad 0-2, Nywesh 2-3, Johnson 2-3). Total fouls: NSU 11, MSUM 14. Technical foul: MSUM bench. Rebounds: NSU 25 (Peterka 5), MSUM 27 (Park 6). Assists: NSU 17 (Smith 4, Pollard 4), MSUM 17 (Kretchman 9). Steals: NSU 9 (three players with 2), MSUM 4 (Coad 2). Turnovers: NSU 7 (Peterka 3), MSUM 12 (Beeninga 5).