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Eric Peterson, Published January 11 2014

Dragons men knock off No. 12-ranked Minnesota State-Mankato

MOORHEAD – Minnesota State Moorhead sophomore Isaac Sevlie sang a spot-on version of the national anthem prior to Saturday’s game at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.

Sevlie and his teammates were just as in tune once the game started.

Eight different Dragons scored in double figures, sparking a 99-85 victory against No. 12-ranked Minnesota State-Mankato in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men’s basketball.

“If you play a team that shoots like that, not many teams are going to come in here and win,” said Mavericks head coach Matt Margenthaler. “We just had no answer for them at the defensive end.”

The Dragons (11-3, 7-3 NSIC) won their second consecutive game, shooting 58 percent (36-for-62) from the field. The Mavericks (14-3, 8-2) had their six-game winning streak ended.

“I feel like tonight by far was the best performance we’ve had as a team,” said the 6-foot-9 Sevlie, who scored a career-high 14 points off the bench. “Everyone was all-in.”

The Dragons were equally efficient in both halves, shooting an identical 18 of 31 from the field in each of the first and second halves. MSU Moorhead scored the final five points of the first half to take a 48-41 lead into halftime.

The Dragons never trailed after halftime and led by as many as 17 points in the final 20 minutes.

“With our depth, we are starting to emphasize transition offense, and we ran a lot less of organized sets,” Walthall said.

Sevlie and 6-foot-8 forward Urbane Bingham gave the Dragons a solid 1-2 punch around the basket. The two split time and combined for 31 points. Bingham scored a team-high 17 points in 20 minutes on 7-for-13 shooting from the floor.

“I think that is a good combination for us,” Walthall said. “Those two are playing really well.”

Junior guard Jordan Riewer, sophomore Tyler Vaughan and freshman Aaron Lien sparked the Dragons on the perimeter, sinking three 3-pointers apiece. All three finished in double-figure scoring.

“We’re deep. We play a lot of guys,” said Riewer, had 15 points and six assists. “That’s what we are. We are a shooting team.”

The Dragons had a solid two-game weekend after losing their three previous games. All of those conference losses came on the road, and two were by a combined three points.

“It was fun to see our guys get back to competing,” Walthall said. “That is what I loved about this weekend. … It was about us competing at the ultimate, maximum level.”

Mavericks center Assem Marei scored a game-high 23 points. The 6-foot-9 junior made 11 of 17 shots from the field, but it wasn’t enough to help his team keep pace with the Dragons.

“They made shots. Give them credit,” Margenthaler said of the Dragons. “In basketball, great offense is going to beat great defense any time, and that’s what happened tonight.”

MSU MANKATO (14-3, 8-2 NSIC): Monaghan 7-13 2-2 18, Adler 2-9 0-0 6, Wooten 4-13 1-2 11, O’Brien 1-3 1-2 3, Marei 11-17 1-4 23, Moten 1-1 0-0 3, Busack 4-7 0-0 10, Romashko 3-8 0-0 7, Okafor 1-4 2-2 4. Totals 34-75 7-12 85.

MSU MOORHEAD (11-3, 7-3): Riewer 5-9 2-2 15, Clark 4-8 2-2 10, Williams 4-7 2-2 10, Vaughan 3-5 3-4 12, Bingham 7-13 2-2 17, Songolo 4-6 1-2 10, Wood 0-2 0-0 0, Lien 4-5 0-0 11, Sevlie 5-7 4-6 14. Totals 36-62 16-20 99.

Half: Moorhead 48, Mankato 41. 3-point goals: Mankato 10-26 (Monaghan 2-6, Adler 2-8, Wooten 2-4, Moten 1-1, Busack 2-4, Romashko 1-3), Moorhead 11-23 (Riewer 3-7, Williams 0-1, Vaughan 3-5, Bingham 1-3, Songolo 1-3, Lien 3-4). Total fouls: Mankato 16, Moorhead 10. Fouled out: Monaghan. Rebounds: Mankato 34 (Wooten 11), Moorhead 34 (Clark 7). Assists: Mankato 15 (Monaghan 11), Moorhead 17 (Riewer 6). Steals: Mankato 7 (Monaghan 2, Marei 2), Moorhead 4 (Williams 2). Turnovers: Mankato 7 (Adler 2, Wooten 2), Moorhead 10 (Williams 3). A-1,098.

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

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