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Forum staff reports, Published March 01 2014

Dragons advance to NSIC men's tournament semifinals

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Minnesota State Moorhead shot 59 percent from the field in the first half to build a 12-point halftime lead Saturday.

The Dragons used that strong start to fuel a 79-68 victory against Upper Iowa in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men’s basketball tournament quarterfinals at the Sanford Pentagon.

“I thought we guarded in the first half really well,” said Dragons head coach Chad Walthall, whose team had a 42-30 halftime lead. “I thought we had a chance to be up by more.”

The Dragons (21-7) next play in the semifinals at 2:30 p.m. Monday.

MSUM plays the St. Cloud State-Winona State winner. Those teams play at 2:30 p.m. today.

“We know whoever we play is going to be really, really good,” Walthall said.

Dragons sophomore Tyler Vaughan helped spark his team’s strong first half, scoring all 11 of his points in the first 20 minutes. The 6-foot-1 guard made 4 of 5 shots from the floor in the first half, including 3-for-3 shooting from the 3-point line.

Five different Dragons scored in double figures. Prescott Williams and Urbane Bingham led the way with 13 points each.

“You are not going to be able to advance if you only have a couple players play well,” Walthall said.

The Peacocks shot 36 percent (23 of 64) from the floor. Upper Iowa was averaging 84 points per game entering Saturday’s game.

The Peacocks earned a 109-107 overtime road win against the Dragons in the regular season.

Walthall felt MSUM played better team defense in Saturday’s matchup.

“I thought we played as a fist a lot more than five fingers,” Walthall said. “Last time, we were on an island and guarding our own guy.”

Senior guard Joey Woods paced Upper Iowa with a game-high 26 points on 10-for-16 shooting. Walthall thought his team did a decent job guarding Woods, who committed nine turnovers.

“He is really, really good,” Walthall said. “We did make him work. That was a big part of it.”

UPPER IOWA (16-14): Woods 10-16 5-7 26, Weeber 4-9 1-1 12, Roth 3-9 4-5 10, Hanna 1-2 2-2 4, Lang 0-6 0-0 0, Pagel 2-6 0-0 5, Hay 1-4 3-4 5, Lenhart 1-4 0-0 3, Ogbonna 1-4 1-2 3, Smith 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 23-64 16-21 68.

MSUM (21-7): Williams 5-6 3-4 13, Clark 4-8 3-8 11, Vaughan 4-9 0-0 11, Wood 2-4 0-0 4, Filipek 0-1 3-6 3, Bingham 6-8 0-2 13, Riewer 2-4 5-6 10, Songolo 1-2 4-4 7, Lien 3-4 0-1 7, Sevlie 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 27-48 18-31 79.

Half: MSUM 42, UIU 30. 3-point goals: UIU 6-22 (Woods 1-2, Weeber 3-7, Roth 0-1, Lang 0-3, Pagel 1-4, Hay 0-1, Lenhart 1-4), MSUM 7-12 (Vaughan 3-5, Bingham 1-1, Riewer 1-3, Songolo 1-1, Lien 1-2). Total fouls: UIU 24, MSUM 21. Rebounds: UIU 34 (Woods 9), MSUM 36 (Clark 8). Assists: UIU 11 (Woods 4), MSUM 14 (Clark 4). Steals: UIU 10 (three players with 2), MSUM 6 (Williams 2, Clark 2). Turnovers: UIU 15 (Woods 9), MSUM 17 (three players with 3). A–1,010.