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Sioux Falls surges in the final minutes, rallies to victory against Dragons

The University of Sioux Falls had a game-changing 11-0 run the game's final three minutes against Minnesota State Moorhead.

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Minnesota State University Moorhead's Dane Zimmer and Sioux Falls' Jake Kettner fight for a rebound at Alex Nemzek on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. David Samson / The Forum
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MOORHEAD — Minnesota State Moorhead went stagnant when it mattered most Saturday afternoon at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.

The University of Sioux Falls rattled off a string of 11 consecutive points in the closing minutes to rally for an 80-76 victory against the Dragons in men's basketball on the final day of the Microtel Thanksgiving Classic.

“It’s a disappointing loss," said Dragons head coach Chad Walthall. "We can’t afford many losses at this point. We’ve got to play better. I don’t know if that means shortening the bench. We’ve got to fix some things.”

The Dragons (6-4) had their four-game winning streak snapped, surrendering a five-point lead in the game's final three minutes. MSUM was outscored a combined 21-2 in the final four minutes of the first half and the final three minutes of the second half.

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Minnesota State University Moorhead's Gatdoar Kueth has a rebound swatted away by Sioux Falls' Austin Slater at Alex Nemzek on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. David Samson / The Forum
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The Dragons finished with 18 turnovers, which led to 14 Sioux Falls points.

“We need to continue to mature," Walthall said. "You’ve got to respect every possession. We are inconsistent and not respecting possessions like we need to.”

MSUM took a 74-69 lead after a Dane Zimmer 3-point play with 2 minutes, 58 seconds remaining in the second half. The 6-foot-7 Zimmer finished with a team-high 19 points and a game-high 17 rebounds. The Dragons, however, went cold after that Zimmer scoring play.

“Zimmer is playing great," Walthall said. "He’s by far playing better than everybody. He is really maximizing his talent level.”

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Minnesota State University Moorhead's Dane Zimmer and Sioux Falls' Austin Slater eye a free ball at Alex Nemzek on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. David Samson / The Forum
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The Cougars countered with an 11-0 run that Matt Cartwright sparked with a 4-point play that cut the Dragons lead to 74-73 with 2:44 remaining. Chase Grinde capped the game-deciding surge with two foul shots that gave USF an 80-74 lead with four seconds remaining. Dragons guard Jacob Beeninga made an uncontested layup a shade before the final buzzer for the final margin.

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The Dragons went scoreless for nearly three minutes between Zimmer's 3-point play and Beeninga's last-second bucket.

Cartwright finished with a game-high 22 points to lead the Cougars, including a second-half stretch where he scored 13 points in less than three minutes. The 6-foot-4 guard was 8 of 15 from the field and 4 of 8 from 3-point range.

“When a guy like that gets going, then you’re kind of playing catch up," Walthall said. "He can hit them from everywhere.”

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Minnesota State University Moorhead's Trever Kaiser drives against Sioux Falls' Matt Cartwright at Alex Nemzek on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. David Samson / The Forum
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Both teams took turns trying to pull away throughout the game. The Cougars built a 68-60 lead after a Jake Kettner basket with 6:47 to play in the second half. The Dragons countered with 10 consecutive points and took a 70-68 lead after Jaden Stanley-Williams sank a free throw with 4:16 remaining. The run extended to 14-1 after Zimmer's 3-point play, but the MSUM offense went cold from there.

“The reason we got the lead is because we attacked the rim and got some good stuff," Walthall said.

The Dragons shot 37% (10 of 27) from the field in the second half.

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Sioux Falls also ended the first half strong, scoring the final 10 points to build a three-point halftime lead. Grinde capped that scoring surge with a layup that gave the Cougars a 44-41 lead with one second remaining in the first half. The 6-foot-4 Grinde scored 10 points in the opening 20 minutes on 4-for-4 shooting from the floor.

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Minnesota State University Moorhead's Dane Zimmer scores against Sioux Falls' Chase Grinde at Alex Nemzek on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. David Samson / The Forum
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Both teams led by as many as seven points in the first half. The Dragons had a 16-3 run that led to a seven-point edge. Bryce Irsfeld scored eight points during that stretch, including two 3-pointers. Zimmer capped the rally with a 3-point that gave MSUM a 39-32 lead with 4:50 to play until halftime.

The teams exchanged baskets before Sioux Falls closed the half on a 10-0 run. Irsfeld helped keep the Dragons stay close in the first half with 15 points in the first half on 6-for-6 shooting from the field, including three 3-point shots. MSUM shot 62% (16 of 26) from the floor and 60% (6 of 10) from 3-point range in the opening half. Irsfeld scored all his points in the first half.

“We just didn’t play well enough to win," Walthall said. "They exposed us in some areas and we made some huge mistakes on both ends of the floor.”

The Dragons return to Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, against the University of Mary in Bismarck.

“I know that we can play better, but you can’t talk about it, you have to show it," Walthall said.

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Minnesota State University Moorhead's Bryce Irsfeld reacts after crashing to the floor during play against Sioux Falls at Alex Nemzek on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. David Samson / The Forum
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USF (4-3): Kettner 3-6 1-2 7, Thompson 6-10 2-2 16, Oba 0-3 0-0 0, Puetz 0-5 0-0 0, Kondrat 3-10 2-2 8, Slater 1-1 1-1 3, Grinde 5-8 4-6 15, Cartwright 8-15 2-4 22, Coudreau 2-4 0-0 4, Johnson 2-3 0-0 5. Totals 30-66 12-17 80.
MSUM (6-4): McGhee 4-6 2-3 10, Stanley-Williams 3-7 3-4 9, Baumgartner 2-7 1-1 6, Irsfeld 6-8 0-0 15, Zimmer 7-10 4-6 19, Myren 0-1 0-0 0, Sem 0-0 0-0 0, Kueth 0-2 2-2 2, Bergh 0-1 0-0 0, Beeninga 3-7 2-4 10, Kaiser 1-4 2-2 5. Totals 26-53 16-22 76.
Half: USF 44, MSUM 41. 3-point goals: USF 8-18 (Kettner 0-1, Thompson 2-4, Puetz 0-1, Kondrat 0-1, Grinde 1-2, Cartwright 4-8, Johnson 1-1), MSUM 8-15 (Stanley-Williams 0-1, Baumgartner 1-1, Irsfeld 3-4, Zimmer 1-1, Bergh 0-1, Beeninga 2-4, Kaiser 1-3). Total fouls: USF 20, MSUM 16. Fouled out: Oba. Rebounds: USF 32 (Thompson 6, Grinde 6), MSUM 39 (Zimmer 17). Assists: USF 12 (Thompson 4, Grinde 4), MSUM 11 (Irsfeld 6). Turnovers: USF 7, MSUM 18.

Related Topics: BASKETBALL
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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