MOORHEAD-While the performance wasn't pretty at times Friday night for Minnesota State Moorhead, the outcome was desirable.

The Dragons scored the game's final 11 points to hold off Southwest Minnesota State and earn a 66-51 victory in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference women's basketball before 1,233 fans at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.

"It was really ugly," said Dragons senior Drew Sannes, who scored 20 points and added nine rebounds. "It shouldn't have been that close. We shouldn't have let them get back into it, but the thing I love is just the grit of this team to pull that out and pull away at the end."

The Dragons (16-3, 13-2 NSIC) have won 10 consecutive games to remain in first place in the NSIC North Division, one game ahead of Northern State.

"I love how we just keep working, we do what we need to do to pull out these wins," Sannes said. "I think that we have gotten better throughout January. We want to be getting better this time of year."

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The Dragons held a 51-41 lead entering the fourth quarter before the Mustangs made a late charge. Southwest Minnesota State (4-14, 3-12) sliced the MSUM lead to 55-51 after freshman guard Meleah Reinhart sank two free throws with 6 minutes, 2 seconds remaining.

"I felt like we were just discombobulated," Dragons head coach Karla Nelson said. "You have to give Southwest credit. I think they play lots of teams tough, so that didn't surprise me."

The Dragons countered that challenge with 11 consecutive points to close out the game. Four different MSUM players scored during that stretch, including Sannes who scored an inside basket. Dragons senior Cassidy Thorson added a 3-pointer that gave the Dragons a 60-51 lead with 3:55 remaining.

"We were just very lethargic," Nelson said. "The best thing about this team is they just stay with it. It didn't look good for a while and then we made some plays."

The Dragons never trailed and scored the game's first nine points, a run that helped MSUM build a double-digit halftime lead. Sannes capped that early surge with an inside basket that gave the Dragons a 9-0 edge with 6:10 to play in the first quarter.

MSUM led by as many as 19 points in the first half before the Mustangs closed the second quarter on a 9-2 run. The Dragons took a 36-24 lead into halftime. Sannes scored 12 points in the opening 20 minutes on 5-for-8 shooting from the floor.

"I think we came out way too flat," Sannes said. "That's something we just can't do. We need to make our own energy if we don't feel it."

The Dragons host the University of Sioux Falls (13-6, 10-5) at 4 p.m. Saturday to close out the conference weekend.

"You're always going to get somebody's best effort, which I think we got a really good effort by Southwest," Nelson said. "Now it's on to USF."

SMSU 7 24 41 51

MSUM 13 36 51 66

SMSU (4-14, 3-12 NSIC): Reinhart 1-3 2-2 4, Rodning 4-10 1-5 10, S. Buysee 2-3 0-0 5, Baxter 3-13 2-2 9, Akoi 4-8 0-0 8, Stelter 3-6 2-2 9, E. Buysse 0-1 0-0 0, Teske 0-1 0-0 0, Hutton 0-1 2-2 2, Hedlund 2-5 0-1 4. Totals 19-51 9-14 51.

MSUM (16-3, 13-2): Thorson 2-13 0-0 6, Fech 2-4 1-2 6, Volkert 3-8 1-2 8, Sannes 9-14 0-0 20, Hintz 4-6 1-1 9, Selensky 1-2 0-0 2, Borowicz 4-11 2-2 11, Galegher 0-2 0-0 0, Liegel 0-1 0-0 0, Green 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 27-64 5-7 66.

3-point goals: SMSU 4-15 (Reinhart 0-1, Rodning 1-2, S. Buysse 1-2, Baxter 1-5, Stelter 1-3, E. Buysse 0-1, Teske 0-1), MSUM 7-30 (Thorson 2-12, Fech 1-2, Volkert 1-5, Sannes 2-4, Borowicz 1-6, Liegel 0-1). Total fouls: SMSU 15, MSUM 15. Rebounds: SMSU 34 (Akoi 9), MSUM 39 (Thorson 9, Sannes 9). Assists: SMSU 4 (Rodning 3), MSUM 18 (Volkert 8). Steals: SMSU 5 (Rodning 2), MSUM 6 (six players with 1). Turnovers: SMSU 16 (Rodning 5), MSUM 9 (four players with 2). A-1,233.