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Chris Murphy, Published February 23 2013

Marshall holds off Moorhead in boys basketball

MOORHEAD – No person who has ever put on a Moorhead basketball jersey has scored more points than Aaron Lien.

In what may have been his final performance in the Moorhead High School gym Saturday, Lien poured in 27 points, hauled in 10 rebounds and blocked three shots. It wasn’t enough, as the Spuds fell to Class 3A third-ranked Marshall 70-59 in Minnesota boys basketball.

“It felt like we were a little sluggish coming out of the start,” Lien said. “We got down early, and it put us into a funk. We battled back in the second, but it was unfortunately not enough.”

After leading 10-8 to open the game, Moorhead did not lead again until a 3-pointer from Lien gave the Spuds a 51-48 lead with 10 minutes to go. After two points from Lien pushed the Spuds’ lead to 53-50, they would never lead again, as Marshall closed the game on a 20-6 run to win its 12th straight game.

“Our perimeter shots weren’t falling,” Moorhead coach Corey Zimmerman said. “We got hung up and got down 10. We had a nice comeback, but we had some costly turnovers down the stretch. The thing is, you can’t go down by that much. We’re playing with some young guys, but it’s getting to that time where you’re hoping they grow up a little bit.”

Marshall used a 16-6 run fueled by eight points from Austin Saugstad and six points from Hunter Peterson to open up a 32-22 lead in the first half.

The Tigers took a 37-27 lead into the second half, but Moorhead came out firing. Lien found the net every way possible, scoring 13 points during a 24-11 run to give Moorhead a 51-48 lead with 10 minutes to play. Derek Buysse hit two free throws and Tanner Bukowksi had a putback to give the Tigers a 54-53 lead they would not relinquish.

Marshall (23-2) was as well-balanced as advertised. Saugstad finished with 19 points and seven rebounds, Riley Sharbono had 12 points and seven rebounds, Bukowski netted 11 points and hauled in six rebounds, Buysse added 12 points and six rebounds, and Peterson had nine points and three rebounds.

Moorhead (14-8) needs a win over Grand Rapids on Thursday to have a chance to host one more game.

“It’s disappointing, but we played hard,” said Moorhead senior Austin Nelson, who had 14 points, four rebounds and two blocks. “We still have a chance to get a home playoff game. You kind of want your last game to be pretty special. If we don’t have another one, it was fun playing here.”

Either Moorhead gets one last hoorah in front of the home crowd or they travel on the road – where the Spuds have an 8-2 record – for the playoffs.

“Our team has really been good on the road and in hostile environments,” Nelson said. “I think we’ll be fine, but it is kind of weird to think I might never play (at Moorhead) again.”

Mo. (14-8): Dobbins 1 0-0 2, Lien 11 4-4 27, Dorow 3 0-0 6, Lawrence 5 0-0 10, Nelson 6 0-0 14.

Ma. (23-2): Mathiowetz 1 2-3 4, Peterson 3 1-2 9, Saugstad 8 3-3 19, Sharbono 5 2-2 12, Bukowski 4 3-4 11, Buysse 4 3-3 12.

Half: Ma. 37, Mo. 27. 3-point goals: Peterson 2, Buysse 1, Douglas 1, Nelson 2, Lien 1. Total fouls: Ma. 7, Mo. 13. Rebounds: Ma. 31 (Sharbono and Saugstad 7), Mo. 23 (Lien 10). Turnovers: Ma. 13, Mo. 6.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548