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Eric Peterson, Published December 29 2012

Dragons men rally past Viterbo for victory

MOORHEAD – Minnesota State Moorhead survived a turnover-filled first half Saturday at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.

The Dragons shot 56 percent from the floor in the second half to rally for a 63-53 victory against Viterbo University in nonconference men’s basketball.

“We came in, we weren’t ready to play,” said MSUM freshman Tyler Vaughan, who had 12 points. “We came in lackadaisical and thought it was going to be easy. They proved to be a tough team and they didn’t back down from us.”

The Dragons (10-1) have won their past five games. Viterbo (9-8) is an NAIA team from La Crosse, Wis.

MSUM hadn’t played since Dec. 15 when it earned a 78-74 home victory against St. Cloud State in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play. The Dragons resume NSIC play at 8 p.m. Friday when they play host to Minnesota-Crookston.

“We’re coming back from break, that’s not an excuse,” Vaughan said. “We’ve got to come ready to play next week. Otherwise, we are going to get blasted in conference play.”

Viterbo built a 31-28 halftime lead, forcing 14 MSUM turnovers in the first 20 minutes. The V-Hawks had eight offensive rebounds in the opening half. Viterbo scored 18 points off turnovers and added 10 second-chance points in the first half. The V-Hawks also had 12 more shot attempts than MSUM heading into halftime.

“When you have that many turnovers and you give a team that many more opportunities to score, you are going to have some issues,” MSUM head coach Chad Walthall said.

The Dragons trailed by as many as nine points in the first half. MSUM took its first lead of the second half after senior guard Anthony Tucker drained a 3-pointer with 8 minutes, 25 seconds to play. That gave the Dragons a 51-49 lead.

MSUM pulled away late, holding Viterbo scoreless over the final five-plus minutes. The Dragons scored the game’s final 10 points. Tucker scored six of those points, including a floater in the lane, a dunk in transition and a pair of free throws.

MSUM made 14 of 25 shots from the floor in the second half and had four turnovers after halftime.

“Somehow we pulled together and made some shots,” Walthall said. “We obviously have to play a lot better. … The good thing is you can see some glaring weaknesses in our team and now we have to fix them. We can’t play those types of games in our league or else we are going to be in trouble.”

Vaughan scored six points in each half, sinking 4 of 5 shots from the floor. The 6-foot-1 guard was 3 of 4 from behind the 3-point line, making both 3-pointers he attempted in the second half. Vaughan, who came off the bench, also led the team with four assists.

“He’s a good shooter and he is capable,” Walthall said of Vaughan. “He hit some big shots for us. Tyler played well.”

VITERBO (9-8): Sheforgen 4-8 0-0 9, Turba 2-12 0-0 4, Duberry 1-3 0-0 2, Koeller 3-8 0-0 7, Lewis 6-12 0-0 12, Diciaula 3-4 0-2 7, Drummond 0-2 0-0 0, Dreger 1-2 1-2 3, Laufenberg 3-8 0-0 9, Thomas 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-59 1-4 53.

MSUM (10-1): Tucker 6-13 2-3 16, Riewer 3-6 0-0 7, Wohler 2-4 1-1 6, Novak 5-10 2-2 12, Filipek 0-2 0-0 0, Holt 0-0 0-0 0, Vaughan 4-5 1-1 12, Reinke 0-2 0-0 0, Figini 2-2 2-2 6, Olson 2-2 0-1 4. Totals 24-46 8-10 63.

Half: VU 31, MSUM 28. 3-point goals: VU 6-19 (Sheforgen 1-1, Turba 0-4, Koeller 1-4, Lewis 0-1, Diciaula 1-1, Drummond 0-2, Laufenberg 3-6), MSUM 7-19 (Tucker 2-7, Riewer 1-3, Wohler 1-2, Filipek 0-1, Vaughan 3-4, Reinke 0-2). Total fouls: VU 15, MSUM 6. Rebounds: VU 24 (Lewis 5), MSUM 37 (Olson 9). Assists: VU 11 (Duberry 3, Drummond 3), MSUM 12 (Vaughan 4). Steals: VU 15 (Lewis 4), MSUM 3 (three players with 1). Turnovers: VU 7 (Turba 3, Duberry 3), MSUM 18 (Tucker 5). A–479.

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

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