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Eric Peterson, Published February 25 2012

Weekend sweep costs Dragons shot at conference title

MOORHEAD – A weekend that started with so much Dragons promise ended in disappointment.

Junior guard Shelby Amry poured in a game-high 24 points to lead Wayne State to a 64-50 victory against Minnesota State Moorhead in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men’s basketball at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.

“I think everyone on the team worked their butts off,” said Dragons senior guard Andrew VanHavermaet. “It wasn’t how much effort we were giving, it just wasn’t our weekend.”

The Dragons (18-8, 14-8 NSIC) suffered a two-game home weekend sweep for the first time this season, also losing to Augustana on Friday. MSUM had a chance to win a share of the league title entering the weekend.

“We had a shot at a conference championship and kind of blew it so it’s definitely disappointing,” said Dragons senior guard DJ Hamilton.

The Dragons will be the No. 4 seed for the NSIC tournament, which starts Wednesday at various home sites. MSUM hosts No. 5 seed Augustana at 7 p.m. in the first round.

“We still have some basketball to play and we are going to try to end it strong,” Dragons head coach Chad Walthall said.

The Dragons struggled to score early against Wayne State and never recovered. The Wildcats scored 24 of the game’s first 30 points. Shelby scored six points during that opening surge. Wayne State to a 24-6 lead after senior guard Spencer Paulsen scored a layup off a drive to the basket with 6 minutes, 5 seconds to play in the first half.

The Dragons got no closer than nine points of the lead the rest of the way.

“I don’t really know what to say,” said Hamilton, who paced the Dragons with 13 points. “We just came out flat. We didn’t have enough energy or intensity of whatever you call it.”

The Dragons didn’t reach double digits until VanHavermaet sank 2 of 3 free throws with 4:46 remaining in the first half. Wayne State led 24-20 at that point.

The Wildcats took a 31-16 lead into halftime. The Dragons shot 36 percent (5 of 14) from the floor in the first half and committed 16 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. Friday against Augustana, MSUM faced a 16-point halftime deficit.

“I this conference, you can’t dig yourself a hole that deep,” VanHavermaet said.

The Dragons cut the Wayne State lead to nine points on two occasions in the final six minutes of the second half, but MSUM was unable to mount a large enough rally to climb back into the game.

The Dragons had an 8-1 record at Nemzek in NSIC games this season before dropping two this weekend.

“I don’t think we played very well this weekend,” Hamilton said. “We played two tough teams and I think we came out flat both games.”

WAYNE STATE (10-16, 9-13 NSIC): Williams 3-8 1-2 7, Holdsworth 2-3 0-0 4, Paulsen 3-6 4-4 11, Aluong 4-4 1-2 10, Shelby 10-13 2-2 24, Bauschek 1-2 0-0 3, Worthington 1-2 0-0 2, Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Rolfzen 1-4 0-0 3, Wuebker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-42 8-10 64.

MSUM (18-8, 14-8): Hamilton 3-9 5-7 13, VanHavermaet 1-7 2-3 5, Chapman 3-8 1-1 8, Reed 1-2 0-0 2, Driscoll 2-4 0-0 6, Riewer 1-1 1-2 3, Olson 0-0 0-0 0, Novak 5-8 0-0 10. Totals 17-41 9-15 50.

Half: WSC 31, MSUM 16. 3-point goals: WSC 6-15 (Holdsworth 0-1, Paulsen 1-2, Aluong 1-1, Amry 2-5, Bauschek 1-2, Rolfzen 1-4), MSUM 7-20 (Hamilton 2-5, VanHavermaet 1-7, Chapman 1-3, Driscoll 2-4, Lindfors 1-1). Total fouls: WSC 17, MSUM 13. Rebounds: WSC 21 (Williams 7), MSUM 24 (Novak 7). Assists: WSC 10 (Paulsen 4), MSUM 7 (Hamilton 3). Steals: WSC 11 (Paulsen 3), MSUM 5 (five players with 1). Turnovers: WSC 15 (Williams 5), MSUM 22 (Hamilton 5).

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com