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Eric Peterson, Published November 27 2012

Tucker scores 31 as Dragons top Valley City State

MOORHEAD – Senior guard Anthony Tucker scored a career-high 31 points Tuesday night to help Minnesota State Moorhead complete an undefeated nonconference season.

His effort helped spark the Dragons to a 79-66 victory against Valley City State in men’s basketball at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.

Now the real work starts for MSUM, which starts Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play Saturday against Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D.

“This is where it counts,” said Dragons senior Alex Novak, who had 18 points and nine rebounds. “It’s all for league.”

The Dragons (5-0) scored 10 consecutive points during one stretch early in the second half. That surge gave MSUM the cushion it needed to turn away the Vikings. Tucker wanted to see a more consistent effort in the team’s final tune-up before NSIC play.

“We play hard in stretches, which we can’t do in the conference,” said Tucker, who also grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds. “We go through these lulls … there is too much inconsistency and mental mistakes and lapses.”

The game counted as an exhibition for Valley City State, which remained 5-2 overall this season. Vikings senior Sekani Milligen tried to keep his team close with an impressive shooting display. The 6-foot-4 guard scored a game-high 36 points on 13-for-18 shooting from the field. Milligen made 8 of 12 shots from beyond the 3-point arc.

“Our guys did a good job of finding him and really embracing the fact that that’s his role on our team to shoot the ball for us,” Valley City head coach Jeff Kaminsky said. “I thought we had a good team effort as far as helping his performance.”

Junior forward Taylor Filipek sparked the 10-0 run that helped the Dragons start to pull away from VCSU early in the second half. Filipek scored five points during that stretch, including a 3-pointer from the left wing. Sophomore guard Jordan Riewer capped the rally with a 3-pointer from the right wing that gave MSUM a 42-25 lead with 15 minutes, 43 seconds in the second half.

The Dragons shot 62 percent (16 of 26) from the field after halftime and led by as many as 20 points in the final 20 minutes.

“I thought our guys battled,” Kaminsky said. “I was just disappointed in our defensive effort and intensity in the second half. I’ve got to give them credit. They must have wore us down a little bit, because we just weren’t as effective defensively in the second half.”

Tucker scored 21 of his team-high point total in the second half on 7-for-9 shooting from the floor. He also finished with five assists.

“We persevered and made sure we won the game,” Tucker said. “We didn’t play well by any stretch. The effort wasn’t a problem, just the consistency of making plays and doing the little things.”

VCSU (5-2): Kueber 1-8 2-4 4, Duske 4-8 0-0 8, McDonald 3-17 0-2 6, Ostrom 1-2 0-0 2, Milligen 13-16 2-2 36, Pratt 0-2 0-0 0, Embden 0-3 0-0 0, Rogers 2-3 0-0 6, Saavedra 2-4 0-2 4. Totals 26-65 4-10 66.

MSUM (5-0): Tucker 11-20 7-9 31, Riewer 3-11 1-3 10, Vaughan 1-5 2-2 4, Novak 7-9 4-4 18, Filipek 3-5 0-0 8, Holt 0-2 0-0 0, Wohler 1-3 1-2 4, Figini 1-2 0-0 2, Olson 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 28-58 15-20 79.

Half: MSUM 32, VCSU 23. 3-point goals: VCSU 10-31 (Kueber 0-4, Duske 0-3, McDonald 0-7, Milligen 8-12, Embden 0-2, Rogers 2-3), MSUM 8-20 (Tucker 2-5, Riewer 3-7, Vaughan 0-2, Filipek 2-2, Holt 0-2, Wohler 1-2). Total fouls: VCSU 20, MSUM 10. Rebounds: VCSU 32 (Kueber 8), MSUM 42 (Tucker 12). Assists: VCSU 8 (Kueber 3, McDonald 3), MSUM 9 (Tucker 5). Steals: VCSU 5 (McDonald 2), MSUM 4 (Wohler 2). Turnovers: VCSU 8 (McDonald 3), MSUM 9 (four players with 2).

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com