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Eric Peterson, Published January 31 2014

Dragons women earn home victory against Upper Iowa

MOORHEAD – Friday wasn’t officially senior night at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse, but it felt that way for Minnesota State Moorhead.

Megan Strese, Morgan Zabel and Haley Thomforde – all seniors – combined for 50 points. Their effort helped spark the Dragons to a 71-55 victory against Upper Iowa in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference women’s basketball.

“Those three seniors showed up and played pretty well,” Dragons head coach Karla Nelson said. “It’s a lot of pressure on them, but they have a lot of experience. They can handle it.”

The Dragons (11-8, 7-8 NSIC) have won two of their past three games on the heels of three-game losing streak. MSUM remained perfect in its all-time series against the Peacocks. The Dragons have a 15-0 record against Upper Iowa.

“I think we let them hang in there a little bit longer than we should have, but we played hard and we got stops when we needed to,” said Strese, who finished with a game-high 19 points and nine rebounds.

The Dragons controlled the final seven-plus minutes in the second half to ice the victory. Upper Iowa cut the MSUM lead to 57-55 after junior post Olivia Winkler scored an inside basket with 7 minutes, 44 seconds to play. Winkler’s basket capped a 10-1 run.

MSUM countered with the game’s final 14 points. Strese started that final surge with two free throws. Zabel and Thomforde added four points apiece during that final surge.

Strese was efficient, making 5 of 7 shots from the floor and 9 of 10 foul shots. The 6-foot forward scored 12 of those points in the first half.

“When she is open, we’ve got to get the ball inside,” Nelson said.

Strese was honored after the game for surpassing 1,000 career points earlier this month.

“It’s always nice, but to come and get the win, that is always more important,” Strese said.

UPPER IOWA (5-14, 4-11 NSIC): Carroll 2-7 0-0 5, Gustafson 0-2 0-0 0, Kieffer 4-7 0-1 9, Buck 3-14 2-2 8, Thrapp 3-4 2-2 9, TerHark 4-8 0-0 12, Meier 0-1 0-0 0, Pagel 4-8 1-1 9, Winkler 1-2 1-2 3. Totals 21-53 6-8 55.

MSUM (11-8, 7-8): Banasik 1-4 0-0 2, Thomforde 5-9 2-2 13, Zabel 6-14 5-6 18, Handevidt 1-3 0-0 3, M. Strese 5-7 9-10 19, Noreen 0-0 0-0 0, Van Wyhe 1-4 0-0 2, Roehrich 2-3 3-4 8, Miller 1-1 2-2 4, H. Strese 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 23-46 21-24 71.

Half: MSUM 35, UI 33. 3-point goals: UI 7-16 (Carroll 1-3, Kieffer 1-2, Buck 0-3, Thrapp 1-1, TerHark 4-7), MSUM 4-12 (Banasik 0-1, Thomforde 1-2, Zabel 1-5, Handevidt 1-2, Roehrich 1-2). Total fouls: UI 16, MSUM 14. Rebounds: UI 27 (Kieffer 5), MSUM 30 (M. Strese 9). Assists: UI 11 (Thrapp 5), MSUM 11 (three players with 3). Steals: UI 3 (three players with 1), MSUM 10 (Zabel 3). Turnovers: UI 20 (Thrapp 5), MSUM 14 (Handevidt 4). A-803.

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Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com