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Eric Peterson, Published January 15 2013

Wolves breeze by Dragons men for conference victory

MOORHEAD – Collin Pryor was at his best Tuesday night at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.

The Northern State senior scored a career-high 26 points to spark his team to a 79-64 victory against Minnesota State Moorhead in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men’s basketball before 1,327 fans.

“Collin Pryor played about as good a game as I’ve seen him play,” Wolves head coach Paul Sather said. “That’s just awesome to see, because he’s that kind of player that can make a big difference in a team.”

The Dragons (13-3, 7-3 NSIC) lost back-to-back games for the first time this season. Northern State earned a season series sweep against MSUM with the victory. The Wolves beat the Dragons 69-66 on Dec. 1 in Aberdeen, S.D.

“I thought they played with a little more edge than we did tonight, a little more of a chip,” Dragons head coach Chad Walthall said of Northern State. “I thought Northern State was terrific. They played terrific both ends, really engaged every possession.”

The Wolves took control early in the second half with a 15-3 run. Pryor scored eight points during that momentum-shifting stretch. Junior guard Geoffrey Firmin capped the surge with a transition layup that gave Northern State a 50-36 lead with 14 minutes, 25 seconds to play in the second half. Before that run, the Dragons had cut the Northern State lead to 35-33 after an Alex Novak basket with 19:35 remaining in the second half.

“I thought for the most part that second half we did a really good job of having movement,” Sather said. “We moved with a purpose. We were able to get people open.”

Pryor scored 18 of his points in the final 20 minutes. The 6-foot-6 forward made 7 of 11 shots from the floor after halftime. The Wolves led by as many as 20 points in second half. Pryor gave the Wolves a 70-50 lead, scoring a 3-point play with 5:28 remaining.

Senior guard Anthony Tucker paced the Dragons with 21 points and six assists.

“We’re just having a real hard time attacking, getting good scoring opportunities,” Tucker said. “I think we are, myself included, settling way too much and not really attacking the basket. That’s what we were doing early on in the year.”

The Dragons had an eight-game winning streak snapped on Saturday with an 87-64 loss at Minnesota State-Mankato.

“We’ve struggled the last couple games, and you can’t ignore it,” Walthall said. “You’ve got to address it and try to fix some areas that need to be fixed. At the same time, the world’s not ended and you move on to the next thing.”

The Dragons host the University of Sioux Falls on Friday.

The Wolves have won six of their last seven games.

“It’s such a grind in this league,” Sather said. “If you get too excited about something, you will get humbled pretty quick.”

NSU (13-4, 8-2 NSIC): White 0-2 2-2 2, Firmin 4-6 2-2 10, Emge 4-10 0-0 10, Pryor 11-19 4-6 26, Tetzlaff 6-9 0-1 12, Warwick 1-4 0-0 3, Hannigan 2-4 0-0 5, Arvidson 1-1 0-0 3, Zomer 2-4 0-0 4, Bachand 1-3 2-2 4. Totals 32-62 10-13 79.

MSUM (13-3, 7-3): Tucker 8-16 3-3 21, Riewer 4-9 2-2 11, Wohler 0-0 1-2 1, Figini 4-6 0-0 8, Novak 4-9 1-4 9, Holt 0-0 0-0 0, Akason 0-0 0-0 0, Vaughan 3-8 2-2 10, Jorgenson 0-0 0-0 0, Olson 1-1 2-4 4, Filipek 0-1 0-0 0, Sevlie 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-50 11-17 64.

Half: NSU 35, MSUM 31. 3-point goals: NSU 5-15 (Emge 2-5, Warwick 1-4, Hannigan 1-3, Arvidson 1-1, Zomer 0-2), MSUM 5-16 (Tucker 2-8, Riewer 1-3, Vaughan 2-5). Total fouls: NSU 15, MSUM 12. Fouled out: Novak. Rebounds: NSU 34 (Pryor 9), MSUM 26 (Novak 7). Assists: NSU 18 (Firmin 6), MSUM 12 (Tucker 6). Steals: NSU 4 (Hannigan 2), MSUM 5 (five players with 1). Turnovers: NSU 7 (Firmin 3), MSUM 12 (Tucker 3, Novak 3). A-1,327.

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

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