MOORHEAD — Minnesota-Duluth missed two important free throws in the final minute-plus Saturday night, before making two that made the difference.
Bulldogs junior Brandon Myer made two foul shots with 10 seconds remaining to lift his team to a 78-76 victory against Minnesota State Moorhead in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men's basketball at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse before 1,096 fans.
Myer's cluth free throws spoiled a frenzied MSUM rally in the final 70 seconds as the Dragons (18-10, 12-8 NSIC) overcame an 8-point deficit to tie the game.
"We put ourselves in a little more stressful situation, but credit to our guys from continuing to fight and stay with it and not lose their minds a little bit," said Bulldogs head coach Justin Wieck, who is a former MSUM assistant coach.
The Dragons suffered a weekend sweep, also losing to St. Cloud State on Friday night. MSUM is tied with the Bulldogs (15-9, 12-8) for third place in the North Division with two games to play in the regular season. The Dragons were tied with St. Cloud State (19-7, 14-6) for second place in the North, entering the weekend.
"It's disappointing because St. Cloud and Duluth and all of us were bunched," Dragons head coach Chad Walthall said. "To lose two at home is disappointing. ... We've had some mental lapses in some situations where we really cost ourselves. We are going to have to improve that moving forward."
The Bulldogs took a 76-68 lead after Myer hit a jumper in the lane with 1 minute, 18 seconds to play in the second half. That capped a 10-0 UMD run. The Dragons countered with the next eight points. Travaun Coad, who scored six points in that late flurry, started the rally with two free throws with 1:06 remaining.
Coad capped the run with a layup in the middle of the lane that tied the game at 76-76 with 19 seconds remaining. Myer was fouled on the ensuing possession with 10 seconds to play. The Bulldogs had missed the front end of a bonus twice in the final 65 seconds before Myer delivered. The 6-foot-7 forward finished with a game-high 27 points.
"We're never going to play the perfect game that looks really great, but our guys have a ton of toughness," Wieck said.
The Dragons took a 64-58 lead after Johnny Beeninga sank two free throws with 7:53 to play, capping an 8-0 run. The Bulldogs forged back into the lead, scoring the next eight points. That started a trend of streaky play from both teams in the game's final 10 minutes.
"Every team we got a nice lead, we made some decisions on both ends of the floor that really cost us," Walthall said.
"We're a choppy team," Wieck said. "We're not a sexy team that gets up and down the floor. We're a team that has to grind defensively and play with a lot of toughness and play with a chip on our shoulder."
Coad led the Dragons with 20 points on 7-for-13 shooting from the floor, including 4-for-4 shooting from 3-point range. The 6-foot-1 senior guard also grabbed six rebounds on senior night. Freshman guard Siman Sem added 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the field.
"They're a very good basketball team and we knew that it was going to be a grind. They are very physical," Walthall said. "They made a couple more plays than we did. ... I like the way our guys didn't give up. They fought."
UMD (15-9, 12-8 NSIC): Rohrscheib 5-6 2-3 15, Plamann 1-3 0-0 3, Ngom 2-9 2-2 7, Myer 10-18 6-7 27, Burns 7-13 3-5 17, Entwisle 2-4 0-0 5, Kaczynski 1-2 0-0 2, Steffen 0-1 0-0 0, Tomlinson 0-2 0-0 0, Paper 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 29-59 13-17 78.
MSUM (18-10, 12-8): Beeninga 3-5 2-4 8, Coad 7-13 2-2 20, Sem 7-10 2-2 18, Hanson 2-2 0-0 4, Bergh 0-0 0-0 0, Irsfeld 2-5 0-0 6, Baumgartner 2-7 0-0 5, Bussman 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Park 5-14 5-5 15. Totals 28-57 11-13 76.
Half: MSUM 38, UMD 32. 3-point goals: UMD 7-18 (Rohrscheib 3-3, Plamann 1-2, Ngom 1-4, Myer 1-3, Entwisle 1-3, Kaczynski 0-1, Steffen 0-1, Tomlinson 0-1), MSUM 9-19 (Coad 4-4, Sem 2-4, Irsfeld 2-4, Baumgartner 1-3, Johnson 0-1, Park 0-3). Total fouls: UMD 12, MSUM 17. Fouled out: Sem. Rebounds: UMD 34 (Myer 14), MSUM 29 (Coad 6). Assists: UMD 9 (Plamann 3), MSUM 15 (three players with 3). Turnovers: UMD 8 (Plamann 3, Entwisle 3), MSUM 8 (Irsfeld 2, Park 2). A-1,096.