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Eric Peterson, Published January 19 2013

Thomforde, Zabel leads Dragons women past SW Minnesota State

MOORHEAD – The right mindset equaled success for the Dragons at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.

Juniors Haley Thomforde and Morgan Zabel scored 15 points each to spark Minnesota State Moorhead to a 72-62 victory against Southwest Minnesota State on Saturday in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference women’s basketball.

“When we come out with good intensity and energy, that kind of takes care of the little things” said Zabel, who had five rebounds and five assists. “Even if something doesn’t go right, we still have a positive attitude.”

The Dragons (9-7, 6-6 NSIC) won their second consecutive game, earning the weekend conference sweep. MSUM had lost three games in a row before Friday’s 73-65 victory against the University of Sioux Falls.

“It was really important. It helped get our confidence up,” said Thomforde, whose point total was a season high. “The whole confidence thing, that’s really helping us out. … Once one person starts doing well, we feed off each other.”

The Dragons used balance to overtake the Mustangs. Six MSUM players scored at least seven points with three scoring in double digits. Senior guard Kaycee Charette scored 13 points to go along with five rebounds, four assists and two steals.

“We’ve been playing as a team,” Zabel said. “We have multiple people who can score the ball. When we share the ball and all of us score the ball, it’s hard to defend us.”

MSUM’s sharing of the basketball started early in the game.

The Dragons led by as many as 12 points in the first half and used balance to build a 38-33 halftime lead. Charette scored nine points in the first half, while Thomforde and junior post Megan Strese chipped in eight points apiece. Freshman forward Savanna Handevidt added seven points before halftime.

The Mustangs cut the Dragons lead to 46-44 after junior guard Rebekah Rolling sank a baseline jumper with 15 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the second half. MSUM countered by scoring 11 of the next 13 points. Thomforde scored five points during that stretch, including a 3-pointer from the left wing. Zabel capped the rally by scoring off a drive to the basket that gave the Dragons a 57-46 lead with 12:42 remaining. The Mustangs got no closer than seven points of the lead the rest of the way.

“We persevered through the game,” Thomforde said. “That’s kind of what we’ve been working on. I think we are really starting to play together … getting a good flow going.”

SMSU (2-15, 1-11): Sahr 0-3 0-0 0, Saathoff 5-14 0-0 10, Holleman 2-7 0-0 5, Rolling 7-14 3-4 19, Nagel 7-13 2-2 18, DeRuyter 0-0 0-0 0, Watts 0-0 0-0 0, Degler 2-2 0-0 4, Bonlander 2-6 0-0 4, Rosch 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 26-62 5-6 62.

MSUM (9-7, 6-6 NSIC): Thomforde 5-12 3-4 15, Charette 5-12 0-0 13, Yernatich 3-11 2-2 9, Handevidt 2-3 3-4 7, M. Strese 2-9 4-5 8, Roehrich 1-3 1-2 3, Noreen 0-0 0-0 0, Miller 1-2 0-1 2, Zabel 6-8 3-3 15. Totals 25-60 16-21 72.

Half: MSUM 38, SMSU 33. 3-point goals: SMSU 5-19 (Sahr 0-1, Saathoff 0-2, Holleman 1-5, Rolling 2-5, Nagel 2-3, Bonlander 0-1, Rosch 0-2), MSUM 6-20 (Thomforde 2-3, Charette 3-9, Yernatich 1-6, Roehrich 0-2). Total fouls: SMSU 17, MSUM 12. Rebounds: SMSU 32 (Nagel 8), MSUM 45 (Strese 13). Assists: SMSU 11 (Holleman 3), MSUM 13 (Zabel 5). Steals: SMSU 7 (seven players with 1), MSUM 10 (Thomforde 3, Yernatich 3). Turnovers: SMSU 15 (Bonlander 6), MSUM 16 (Thomforde 5). A-605.

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Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

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