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Eric Peterson, Published February 09 2013

Dragons men can't hold big lead against Wayne State

MOORHEAD – Minnesota State Moorhead played at a high level for 32 minutes Saturday at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse, but the final eight minutes left a mark.

Wayne State overcame a 20-point deficit with less than eight minutes remaining to rally for a 73-70 victory against the Dragons in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men’s basketball.

“I think we are all in a state of shock,” Dragons head coach Chad Walthall said. “We just lost our minds for about five minutes. I wish I could put my finger on it.”

The Dragons (16-8, 10-8 NSIC) have lost three of their past four games.

“We’ve been down before,” said Wayne State senior Amry Shelby, who scored a game-high 21 points. “We just didn’t panic. We took good shots, we took open shots and we were fortunate enough to make them at the end of the game there.”

Shelby caught fire in the final minutes. The 5-foot-11 guard scored 15 points in the final 3 minutes, 18 seconds, starting with a pull-up 15-footer near the foul line.

“When you let a great player like Shelby get going, it’s going to be hard,” Walthall said.

The Dragons took a 66-46 lead after freshman Brady Wohler scored on a short jumper with 7 minutes, 43 seconds remaining. The Wildcats took over from that point, ending the game on a 27-4 run. Wayne State had two separate stretches of 10 consecutive points during that scoring flurry.

“It was disappointing,” Walthall said. “I thought we were kind of feeling pretty good about the way we were playing and I just thought we completely let up our guard.”

Shelby gave the Wildcats their first lead of the second half, draining a 3-pointer with 1:02 remaining for a 71-70 edge. Dragons freshman Tyler Vaughan then missed the front end of a bonus with 52 seconds remaining.

Shelby completed his clutch play down the stretch with a 15-foot pull-up jumper that gave his team a 73-70 lead with 15 seconds remaining. Wayne State trailed by as many as 22 points in the second half.

“My teammates found me,” Shelby said. “I was screaming as loud as I could for the ball on a couple of them. … I was feeling it a little bit and I was fortunate to make those shots.”

The Dragons had a 17-3 run in the first half that helped them build a double-digit halftime lead. Senior guard Anthony Tucker scored seven points in that stretch, including a 4-point play. The Dragons shot 52 percent (16 of 31) from the floor in the opening 20 minutes to build a 40-26 halftime lead. Vaughan put an exclamation point on the first half, draining a high-arcing, fading 3-pointer right before the halftime buzzer.

The Dragons, however, weren’t able to make that strong early play hold up late in the second half.

“It was kind of symbolic those last minutes, because that’s been the issue, just being consistent,” Walthall said. “That’s what will happen. It will snowball on you.”

WAYNE STATE (15-9, 9-9 NSIC): Shelby 9-14 0-0 21, Williams 5-11 4-6 14, Holdsworth 3-6 0-0 8, Aluong 2-5 0-0 5, Wright 1-2 2-2 4, Galemmo 0-2 0-0 0, Bauschek 5-6 0-0 11, Worthington 1-1 0-0 2, Rolfzen 2-4 0-0 6, Kurth 0-1 0-0 0, Neely 0-1 0-0 0, Nixon 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 29-54 7-10 73.

MSUM (16-8, 10-8): Tucker 5-14 1-1 14, Riewer 2-7 0-0 5, Vaughan 3-11 0-1 9, Olson 5-7 0-0 10, Novak 8-13 0-0 16, Wohler 3-3 2-2 9, Figini 3-4 1-2 7, Sevlie 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-59 4-6 70.

Half: MSUM 40, WSC 26. 3-point goals: WSC 8-18 (Shelby 3-6, Holdsworth 2-4, Aluong 1-3, Galemmo 0-1, Rolfzen 2-4), MSUM 8-24 (Tucker 3-10, Riewer 1-4, Vaughan 3-9, Wohler 1-1). Total fouls: WSC 13, MSUM 9. Rebounds: WSC 19 (Williams 7), MSUM 39 (Novak 13). Assists: WSC 15 (Shelby 4, Wright 4), MSUM 14 (Riewer 7). Steals: WSC 9 (Williams 2, Worthington 2), MSUM 2 (Riewer, Olson). Turnovers: WSC 4 (four players with 1), MSUM 14 (Tucker 5). A-976.

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Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com