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Eric Peterson, Published November 25 2013

Zabel, Dragons cruise to victory against Valley City State

MOORHEAD – Minnesota State Moorhead senior Morgan Zabel is so efficient that at times her effectiveness goes unnoticed.

Zabel tied a career high with 24 points Monday night at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse. Her effort helped spark the Dragons to an

83-53 victory against Valley City State in nonconference women’s basketball.

“She plays so consistent sometimes those things get overlooked,” Dragons head coach Karla Nelson said of Zabel. “She just does her thing.”

The Dragons (4-0) remained unbeaten. They start Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play next weekend. MSUM hosts Northern State at 4 p.m. Saturday.

“I think our preseason play showed a lot of potential for us,” said Zabel, who is averaging 20.3 points per game this season. “We just have to play at a consistent level.”

Monday’s game counted as an exhibition for the Vikings, who stuck with MSUM until midway through the first half. Valley City State took an 18-17 lead after freshman guard Tarah Cleveland hit a

15-foot shot with 10 minutes, 43 seconds to play until halftime.

“We did some things well, especially early,” Valley City State head coach Cathy Hanek said. “To play against superior competition, I think is always good. … In spurts, there were some small things we can take away as positives.”

The Dragons countered Cleveland’s basket with a 16-2 run. Sophomore forward Savanna Handevidt scored six points during that stretch, including four points in the paint. Heather Strese capped the rally with a foul shot that gave the Dragons a 33-20 victory with 3:48 to play in the first half. MSUM took a 17-point into halftime.

Zabel scored 13 of her game-high point total in the second half. The 5-foot-10 forward was 5-for-7 from the floor after halftime, including 3-for-4 shooting from 3-point range. Zabel was 9-for-13 from the floor for the game.

“What helps is we’ve been moving the ball pretty well and that opens things up,” Zabel said.

“Morgan has played pretty consistent basketball,” Nelson added. “That is good to see.”

The Dragons shot 48 percent (29 of 60) from the floor, while Valley City State shot 36 percent (20 of 55) from the field.

Nelson said her team needs to perform better when conference play starts.

“I thought we practiced very average for three or four days and we played that way,” Nelson said. “We’ve still got a long way to go to be a good team.”

VALLEY CITY STATE (3-4): Even 1-5 2-3 4, Jihad 2-9 0-0 5, Pedersen 3-6 2-2 9, Hunter 3-7 2-2 8, Lehner 4-11 1-1 9, Cleveland 1-2 0-1 2, Ettl 2-5 0-0 5, Greiner 1-4 0-0 2, Trautman 1-4 2-2 4, Boehmlehner 1-1 0-0 3, Dixon 1-1 0-0 2, Ruiz de Terry 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-55 9-11 53.

MSUM (4-0): Banasik 0-0 2-2 2, Thomforde 3-6 1-2 8, Zabel 9-13 2-3 24, Handevidt 2-4 3-4 7, M. Strese 6-14 1-1 13, Noreen 1-3 0-0 3, Van Wyhe 0-0 0-0 0, Roehrich 3-9 2-2 10, Miller 2-3 0-0 4, H. Strese 3-8 5-6 12. Totals 29-60 16-20 83.

Half: MSUM 43, VCSU 26. 3-point goals: VCSU 4-12 (Even 0-1, Jihad 1-1, Pedersen 1-3, Cleveland 0-1, Ettl 1-3, Greiner 0-1, Trautman 0-1, Boehmlehner 1-1), MSUM 9-19 (Thomforde 1-3, Zabel 4-5, Handevidt 0-1, M. Strese 1-1, Noreen 1-3, Roehrich 2-5, H. Strese 1-2). Total fouls: VCSU 17, MSUM 16. Rebounds: VCSU 28 (Even 7), MSUM 43 (M. Strese 10). Assists: VCSU 11 (Jihad 3), MSUM 17 (Thomforde 5, Van Wyhe 5). Steals: VCSU 4 (four players with 1), MSUM 6 (Thomforde 2). Turnovers: VCSU 14 (Cleveland 3), MSUM 9 (Banasik 3, Thomforde 3). A-501.


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Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com