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Tom Mix, Published January 04 2013

Dragons top Minnesota Crookston in men's hoops

MOORHEAD – The Minnesota State Moorhead men’s basketball team never gave up its lead in the second half, but that didn’t mean Minnesota Crookston let the Dragons coast to victory.

The Dragons outlasted the Golden Eagles to earn a 71-66 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference win on Friday at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.

Senior guard Anthony Tucker scored a game-high 21 points to lead MSUM

(11-1, 5-1 NSIC).

“Welcome to the Northern Sun,” MSUM head coach Chad Walthall said. “Nothing happened tonight that surprised me. (Crookston) has some good athletes that gave us some issues. We were fortunate to win, but we will take it. You never apologize for a league win.”

The Dragons led 28-25 at halftime.

The second half proved to be tight with both teams trading baskets back and forth early, but MSUM never let the lead slip away.

On four separate occasions, The Golden Eagles were within one point of the Dragons in the second half.

“It was just one of those things where they kept responding to everything we did,” MSUM senior forward Alex Novak said. “We just had to keep getting stops on the other end. Second shots killed us. … Our defense was good up to the point of their first shot, but it is tough to play another 30 seconds of defense.”

Novak finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.

Freshman guard Tyler Vaughan fueled a 6-0 Dragons run midway through the second half hitting two 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions. Those baskets gave MSUM a 48-41 lead with 12 minutes, 10 seconds left to play.

“It was a close game pretty much all night long,” Minnesota-Crookston head coach Jeff Oseth said. “Where we struggled was keeping those guys in front down the stretch, and we got into some situations where we had to help. They were able to dish off and they got some and-ones, which gave them the cushion where it was tough for us to break that down.”

Eric Olson successfully completed two of those 3-point plays at the free-throw line, after getting hard baskets to fall in the paint. Olson finished with nine points for MSUM.

The Golden Eagles had three players score in double figures. Broderick Schmidt and Justin Rake each finished with 15 points for Crookston (3-7, 0-6).

Crookston got to within three points of MSUM with under a minute to play, but it was not enough.

“It is a rivalry game,” Walthall said. “Credit to Crookston. I thought they got on us and played really hard. I thought defensively in the second half, we were really good for the most part, but the problem was they kept getting second and third opportunities off the glass. That is something we are going to have to shore up on.”

CROOKSTON (3-7, 0-6): Krdzalic 3-9 0-0 7, Schmidt 7-11 0-0 15, Rake 5-10 2-2 15, Sparkman 2-6 0-0 5, Burns 6-15 0-0 14, Harrell 2-9 1-2 5, Hiang 1-1 0-0 2, Lubke 1-1 0-0 3. Totals: 27-62 3-4 66.

MSUM (11-1, 5-1): Tucker 7-13 3-4 21, Riewer 0-3 2-3 2, Wohler 2-3 0-2 6, Novak 7-11 3-4 17, Filipek 0-3 0-0 0, Vaughan 5-9 0-0 14, Figini 0-1 2-2 2, Olson 3-3 3-4 9. Totals: 24-46 13-19 71.

Half: MSUM 28, UMC 25. 3-point goals: MSUM 10-23 (Tucker 4-8, Riewer 0-2, Wohler 2-3, Filipek 0-2, Vaughan 4-8), UMC 9-17 (Krdzalic 1-1, Schmidt 1-1, Rake 3-5, Sparkman 1-2, Burns 2-4, Harrell 0-3, Lubke 1-1). Total fouls: MSUM 11, UMC 16. Rebounds: MSUM 27 (Novak 8), UMC 35 (Schmidt 9). Assists: MSUM 17 (Riewer 7), UMC 11 (Harrell 4). Steals: MSUM 5 (Tucker 3), UMC 5 (Schmidt 2). Turnovers: MSUM 11, UMC 10. A: 912.

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Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562