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Chris Murphy, Published December 14 2012

Bulldogs top Dragons in NSIC clash

MOORHEAD – There was a rude welcome home present for the Minnesota State Moorhead women’s basketball team Friday in the Dragons’ Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference home opener.

The rims.

The Dragons shot 15 of 63 from the field en route to a 65-50 loss at the hands of Minnesota-Duluth.

“It’s always pretty physical when we play them, so it doesn’t surprise me that it was tough to get a basket,” MSUM coach Karla Nelson said. “It was a grind for either team to get two points. I think, overall, Duluth just manhandled us. They just got all over us and we didn’t handle it very well. They lost here last year and they had great motivation and they just went after us.”

There was a no-court advantage in the first half, as MSUM (5-3, 2-2 NSIC) and UMD (6-2, 3-1) combined to shoot 12-for-65 from the field – including a 3-for-40 stint in the first 12 minutes and UMD missing its first 17 shots – to go along with 24 turnovers.

There was nothing pretty about it.

It wasn’t shocking that the Bulldogs took a 24-19 lead into halftime, but what was surprising was that the teams combined for more than 40 points.

“We just couldn’t buy a shot,” said MSUM forward Megan Strese, who notched her fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 14 rebounds. “They played some good defense.”

The second half certainly had a better start than the first when MSUM’s Haley Thomforde opened the frame with a 3-pointer to pull the Dragons within two. The Dragons, however, would get no closer, as the UMD held momentum the entire half.

“The second half they sped us up and knocked down shots,” Strese said. “It’s just frustrating that we couldn’t catch them. We have to have more confidence in ourselves to be able to have timing and pressure teams when they pressure us.”

Things came to a boiling point early in the first half after Morgan Zabel nailed a 3-pointer to cut the UMD lead to 35-30. The next Bulldogs possession seemingly lasted a lifetime for the Dragons.

The Bulldogs missed two shots, but got the ball back both times, while the Dragons were called for three fouls in the procession. It looked as though the Dragons were going to come out of the possession keeping the score at 35-30 when Kaycee Charette forced a turnover, but a loose ball foul was called on Charette with a Bulldog defender draping her back.

Nelson got a technical foul, the Bulldogs sank two free throws and proceeded to score on their next six possessions to push the lead to 44-30 and that was the ballgame.

MSUM (5-3, 2-2 NSIC):Thomforde 3-6 0-0 8, Charette 4-13 0-0 10, Yernatich 0-8 2-6 2, Handevidt 0-3 2-2 2, Strese 3-13 4-8 10, Noreen 1-2 0-1 2, Zabel 2-12 6-6 12, Hebert 1-1 0-1 2, H. Strese 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 15-63 14-24 50. UMD (6-2, 3-1): Kerkhoff 3-7 3-4 9, Doucette 3-11 6-6 13, Sygulla 1-8 1-2 3, Newman 2-10 0-1 4, Rutten 7-13 9-10 24, Salmon 1-2 3-4 6, Meyer 2-5 2-2 6. Totals 19-57 24-29 65.

Half: UMD 24, MSUM 19. 3-point goals: UMD 3-9 (Kerkhoff 0-1, Doucette 1-4, Sygulla 0-1, Newman 0-1, Rutten 1-1, Salmon 1-1), MSUM 6-19 (Thomforde 2-4, Charette 2-6, Yernatich 0-3, Noreen 0-1, Zabel 2-5).Total fouls: MSUM 19, UMD 23. Rebounds: MSUM 42 (Strese 14), UMD 52 (Rutten 18). Assists: MSUM 11 (Yernatich 3, Zabel 3), UMD 12 (Doucette 5). Steals: MSUM 6 (Charette 2, Zabel 2), UMD 9 (Lueck 2, Kerkhoff 2). Turnovers: MSUM 20, UMD 19. A: 703.

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Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548