Hot-shooting St. Cloud State too much for 'lackluster' Dragons to handle

Minnesota State Moorhead guard Natalie Steichen dribbles the ball up the court against St. Cloud State on Saturday at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse. Sean Rice / Dragons Athletics

MOORHEAD — St. Cloud State senior Madelin Dammann hadn't been on a team that defeated Minnesota State Moorhead during her college career. She made sure that trend ended Saturday.

Dammann poured in a game-high 23 points to lead the Huskies to a 73-65 victory against the Dragons in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference women's basketball at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.

"This is the first time we've beat them in my four years here so it's really exciting," said Dammann, from Waconia, Minn.

The Dragons had won the seven previous meetings against St. Cloud State. The Huskies last victory against MSUM prior to Saturday was on Dec. 11, 2015, a 65-59 win in Moorhead.

"We can take away from this that we can beat any team in the league," Dammann said. "I respect the (heck) out of Moorhead. It's going to be a battle every night."


The Dragons (14-7, 9-5 NSIC) have lost three of their previous four games. St. Cloud State (14-4, 11-3) has won eight consecutive games. Huskies junior guard Tori Wortz added 18 points to complement Dammann. Wortz and Dammann combined to shoot 80% (8 of 10) from the 3-point line. The Huskies shot 65% (11 of 17) from beyond the arc for the game.

"I thought Wortz and Dammann played excellent basketball and that's what they should do," Dragons head coach Karla Nelson said. "They are veteran players. You can tell they want to win this thing."

The Dragons never led in the second half, but took a run at the lead early in the fourth quarter. A Megan Hintz 3-point play capped a run of eight consecutive MSUM points and cut the Huskies lead to 61-57 with 7 minutes, 12 seconds remaining. Moments later, Dammann sank a 3-pointer to spark a run of five consecutive SCSU points to fend off the rally.

"The thing that I think is impressive is we would make a run and they would hit a shot," Nelson said. "If they are not playing with the confidence they are, they maybe miss those shots so you have to give them credit. ... That's what champions are really made of."

St. Cloud State held the lead for more than 31 of the game's 40 minutes. The Dragons took a 14-13 lead after scoring the first basket in the second quarter. Dammann countered with a 3-pointer that gave the Huskies a 16-14 lead with 8:32 to play until halftime. St. Cloud State never trailed after that basket. The Huskies outscored MSUM by eight points in the second quarter.

"Just confidence in ourselves, we know we are a good team this year," Dammann said. "It was huge for us. We knew it was going to be a defensive battle, they're a good defensive team."

Junior forward Nikki Kilboten had a strong first half to help the Huskies build a nine-point halftime lead. The 6-foot-2, Kilboten scored six points during a 10-0 run that helped St. Cloud State build a double-digit cushion. Her 15-foot jumper gave the Huskies a 36-22 edge with 1:35 to play in the second quarter.


Kilboten scored 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the floor in the opening 20 minutes to help St. Cloud State take a 37-28 lead into halftime. The Huskies shot 59% (10 of 17) from the floor in the second quarter. Kilboten finished with 17 points and five rebounds to complement Dammann and Wortz.

"We were just lackluster," Nelson said. "I think we got manhandled in the post so their post defense was really good on us. We just struggle to play together right now."

SCSU 13 37 58 73

MSUM 12 28 49 65

SCSU (14-4, 11-3 NSIC): Kilboten 8-15 0-0 17, Wortz 7-11 1-1 18, Dammann 7-11 4-4 23, Navartil 2-5 0-0 4, Evans 3-10 1-2 8, Peterson 1-5 0-0 3, Peschel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-57 6-7 73.

MSUM (14-7, 9-5): Boom 3-8 0-0 6, Hintz 6-16 2-2 14, Steichen 3-7 0-0 6, Jacobson 5-8 0-0 12, Liegel 5-8 0-0 14, Fech 2-5 0-0 5, McKeever 0-1 3-4 3, Green 2-5 1-2 5. Totals 26-58 6-8 65.

3-point goals: SCSU 11-17 (Kilboten 1-1, Wortz 3-4, Dammann 5-6, Navartil 0-1, Evans 1-3, Peterson 1-2), MSUM 7-21 (Boom 0-1, Hintz 0-1, Steichen 0-2, Jacobson 2-5, Liegel 4-7, Fech 1-4, McKeever 0-1). Total fouls: SCSU 9, MSUM 12. Technical foul: MSUM bench. Rebounds: SCSU 30 (Kilboten 5, Evans 5), MSUM 31 (Boom 6, Green 6). Assists: SCSU 14 (Evans 9), MSUM 8 (Steichen 3). Turnovers: SCSU 13, MSUM 12.

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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