« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Eric Peterson, Published February 07 2014

Dragons men hold off St. Cloud State for home victory

MOORHEAD – Tarell Clark had a game’s worth of points in one half Friday at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.

The Minnesota State Moorhead senior exploded for 23 points in the first half. His early offense sparked the Dragons to a 91-88 victory against St. Cloud State in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men’s basketball before 1,429 fans.

“I think my teammates were allowing me to come out aggressive and give us a spark that I think we desperately needed,” said Clark, who finished with 27 points.

The Dragons (16-5, 12-5 NSIC) moved into sole possession of second place in the North Division. They were tied for second with St. Cloud State in the North heading into the game. With Friday’s win, MSUM defeated the Huskies twice in one season for the first time since 1981-82. A couple weekends ago, the Dragons earned a 95-88 overtime win at St. Cloud State. That marked the first time MSUM had won at St. Cloud since 1983.

“It’s a win against a terrific program, and we have all the respect in the world for that program,” Dragons head coach Chad Walthall said.

The Dragons led by as many as 19 points in the second half before St. Cloud State made a furious rally. Huskies senior Damarius Cruz scored 19 of his 22 points in the final 20 minutes. The 6-foot guard got red-hot from 3-point range, making 4 of 5 from beyond the arc in the second half.

Cruz drained a fading 3-pointer from the right wing that cut the MSUM lead to 84-83 with 4 minutes, 38 seconds remaining. That capped a 17-6 run.

“Sometimes you just have to give credit to the other guys,” Walthall said.

Clark scored four points in the second half, but two of them were critical. The 6-foot-3 guard had a tip-in that gave MSUM an 87-83 lead with 3:30 remaining.

“Being a senior, I wanted to come out and lead our team to victory,” Clark said.

St. Cloud State had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds, but sophomore guard Jordan Poydras missed a deep 3-pointer. Clark grabbed the rebound and was fouled as time expired. After an official review, they ruled the game was over.

“It was a sigh of relief. I was just happy they missed,” Clark said of the final sequence.

Clark made 10 of 11 shots from the field in the first half to help the Dragons build a 53-43 halftime lead. MSUM shot 67 percent (24 of 36) from the field in the opening 20 minutes with Clark leading the way. Clark finished one point off his career high for points in a game on 12-for-14 shooting from the field.

“It set the stage because it gave us confidence early,” Walthall said of Clark’s big first half. “He just finished great tonight. He finished everything. He was outstanding.”

The Dragons took a 68-49 lead after junior guard Malik Wood sank a 3-pointer with 15:15 to play in the second half. That lead proved to be enough cushion to weather St. Cloud State’s late rally. MSUM never trailed in the final 37-plus minutes.

“We are just trying to keep climbing our way to the top of the league,” Clark said.

ST. CLOUD STATE (15-6, 11-6 NSIC): Levandoski 1-6 0-0 2, Poydras 8-19 4-4 23, Cruz 7-11 3-3 22, Craggs 8-11 2-3 20, Larson 4-4 0-0 8, Stone 1-2 2-6 4, Mortag 1-1 0-0 2, Niehaus 1-2 0-0 3, Fort 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 33-58 11-16 88.

MSUM (16-5, 12-5): Clark 12-14 3-4 27, Williams 3-5 0-0 6, Wood 6-8 2-2 16, Vaughan 6-11 1-2 15, Bingham 4-9 1-2 9, Songolo 4-6 0-0 9, Lien 2-4 0-0 5, Filipek 0-0 0-0 0, Sevlie 2-4 0-1 4. Totals 39-61 7-11 91.

Half: MSUM 53, SCSU 43. 3-point goals: SCSU 11-27 (Levandoski 0-3, Poydras 3-10, Cruz 5-7, Craggs 2-5, Niehaus 1-2), MSUM 6-18 (Williams 0-1, Wood 2-3, Vaughan 2-7, Bingham 0-2, Songolo 1-2, Lien 1-3). Total fouls: SCSU 17, MSUM 14. Rebounds: SCSU 19 (Poydras 6), MSUM 32 (Clark 10). Assists: SCSU 18 (Craggs 6), MSUM 10 (Wood 4). Steals: SCSU 8 (three players with 2), MSUM 5 (Clark 3). Turnovers: SCSU 11 (Poydras 3, Fort 3), MSUM 14 (Clark 4). A-1,429.

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

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