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No. 5-ranked Dragons reach 30 wins, advance in NSIC men's tournament

MOORHEAD - No. 5-ranked Minnesota State Moorhead entered an elite club Wednesday night. Six Dragons scored in double figures to spark an 89-60 victory against Wayne State in the first round of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men's bas...

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Minnesota State Moorhead’s Tyler Vaughan and Wayne State’s Joel Heesch (23) and Jordan Cornelius fight for a rebound during the first round of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men’s basketball playoffs on Wednesday. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

MOORHEAD – No. 5-ranked Minnesota State Moorhead entered an elite club Wednesday night.
Six Dragons scored in double figures to spark an 89-60 victory against Wayne State in the first round of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men’s basketball tournament.
MSUM (30-2) has won five consecutive games, reaching the 30-win plateau for the first time in program history. The Dragons are the first men’s team in NCAA Division II to reach 30 wins this season.
“It’s a credit to our guys and their approach,” Dragons head coach Chad Walthall said. “The big thing with this team all year long is their approach is very, very good. … That’s why we have 30 wins, we’ve been pretty consistent.”
MSUM plays Upper Iowa (17-12) at noon Sunday in the NSIC tournament quarterfinals at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.
“We’re playing a very good Upper Iowa team,” Walthall said. “We’re on to the next thing.”
The Dragons pulled away in the second half, limiting Wayne State to 22 points over the final 20 minutes. The Wildcats shot 28 percent (8 of 29) from the field after halftime after shooting 53 percent (16 of 30) from the floor in the first half.
“If we played better (defense) like we did in the second half, going forward we have a good chance to keep doing some sweet things,” said Dragons junior Isaac Sevlie, who had 17 points.
The 6-foot-9 Sevlie ignited the home crowd with a series of three consecutive two-handed dunks in the second half. His third dunk was a 3-point play that gave the Dragons a 77-51 lead with 6:40 remaining. MSUM took a 79-51 lead after sophomore Matt Nelson added a one-handed dunk in transition. Nelson finished with 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting from the floor.
“Sometimes when you get one (dunk), you are a little more amped up,” Sevlie said of his three slams.
The Dragons shot 60 percent (18 of 30) from the floor in the second half, outscoring Wayne State by 20 points in the second half. MSUM had a 47-38 lead at halftime before its stingy defense took hold.
“I don’t think we played well defensively in the first half, but give credit to Wayne (State), they run that offense to pieces,” Walthall said. “We have to make sure that we play two good halves moving forward.”
WAYNE STATE (7-22): Jacks 2-5 2-2 7, Nagy 2-9 0-0 6, VandeBerg 1-4 0-0 3, Cornelius 1-6 0-0 2, Kurth 6-7 0-0 12, Danon 0-0 0-0 0, Burneika 0-1 0-0 0, Ross 0-1 0-0 0, Esters 5-10 2-3 14, Holdsworth 2-6 0-0 5, Heesch 5-10 1-2 11, Zumbrennen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-59 5-7 60.
MSUM (30-2): Riewer 5-9 2-2 14, Williams 4-7 2-4 11, Lien 6-11 1-1 14, Vaughan 1-8 2-2 5, Sevlie 7-10 3-5 17, Songolo 0-5 0-0 0, Kretchman 0-1 0-2 0, Holt 0-0 2-2 2, Nelson 5-5 0-0 10, Bingham 8-13 0-1 16. Totals 36-69 12-19 89.
Half: MSUM 47, WSC 38. 3-point goals: WSC 7-23 (Jacks 1-2, Nagy 2-6, VandeBerg 1-3, Cornelius 0-3, Ross 0-1, Esters 2-3, Holdsworth 1-4, Heesch 0-1), MSUM 5-19 (Riewer 2-5, Williams 1-2, Lien 1-5, Vaughan 1-5, Songolo 0-1, Bingham 0-1). Total fouls: WSC 19, MSUM 9. Rebounds: WSC 40 (Kurth 8), MSUM 32 (Williams 7). Assists: WSC 15 (Nagy 4), MSUM 22 (Riewer 6). Steals: WSC 8 (Heesch 5), MSUM 19 (Riewer 6). Turnovers: WSC 26 (Nagy 5), MSUM 10 (Riewer 3). A-1,530.

Related Topics: MOORHEAD
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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