Minnesota State, Moorhead is one of the top three-point shooting teams in the nation.
The Dragons showed it on Sunday.
The 19th ranked team in Division II pulled away from Northern State 81-74 at Wachs Arena in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men's college basketball game.
Moorhead made 11-for-25 from the three-point line and used a late surge to come away with the NSIC win, one night after the University of Mary upset the Dragons 72-51 in Bismarck, N.D.
“We went through some adversity last night,” Moorhead senior guard D.J. Hamilton said. “Coming back winning this game is big for us. Last night was a terrible game, but we forgot about it and came in and did our best tonight.”
Hamilton finished with a game-high 24 points and was instrumental during a 9-0 run that seized momentum for his team. The Dragons were clinging to a 59-58 lead with 8 minutes left. Moorhead forward Jake Lindfors made a three on an assist from Hamilton. The Dragons then forced the Wolves into a turnover and Hamilton drilled a three on the other end. Hamilton stole the ball from NSU the next time down and converted a conventional three-point play.
“Little two or three possessions here or there are going to be difference makers and we just happened to be on the positive end of those,” Moorhead coach Chad Walthall said. “We are not a high steal team. Maybe we were fortunate on one or two of those, but then you have to complete it down on the other end and we completed at the other end by making a shot or getting to the free throw line and that was huge.”
The sequence lasted just over 30 seconds and the Wolves trailed 68-58 when it was all done.
“It went from a three-point game where we had some momentum going to a 10-point deficit where we had none,” Northern State coach Paul Sather said.
The Wolves cut the deficit to 72-68 with four minutes and six seconds left after Trent Zomer made a pair of free throws. However, Hamilton scored on an offensive tip-in on the next possession and the Dragons made 7-for-8 from the foul line in the final 2 minutes to earn the win.
“When you come in here, you better be engaged in all phases because you are going to get your butt beat,” Walthall said. “I thought we were engaged.”
Moorhead was certainly engaged from the three-point line early on. The Dragons, who average 43.5 percent from the three-point line, were pretty much right at their average in the first 20 minutes. Moorhead nailed 7-for-16 (43.8 percent) from beyond the arc in the first half to spur a 39-33 halftime lead. The Dragons are the third best three-point shooting team in Division II.
“They are a very good three-point shooting team,” Sather said. “I just felt like we had a good defensive approach to them and we did a terrible job in the first half of doing it and in the second half we had signs of it better, but we had so many breakdowns defensively.”
NSU junior forward and second leading scorer Collin Pryor went down early in the second half with an undisclosed left leg injury. Sather did not know the extent of the injury afterwards.
“That is something we have to look at more,” Sather said. “I think he will be fine.”
Even without Pryor, the Wolves went on a 6-0 run at the start of the second half to even up the score at 39. The score was tied again at 41 and then again at 54 after Zomer made a three-pointer with under 11 minutes to play.
The Wolves got within one point two more times, with the second time coming after Dustin Tetzlaff made a pair of free throws to make it 59-58 with 8:24 left. The Dragons then went on a their 9-0 run to take control.
“It was big for us,” Hamilton said. “This game is a game of runs and we went on a run at a good time and lucky for us we came out on top.”
Charlie Chapman tossed in 18 points, including three three-pointers. Jordan Riewer netted 13 points and added two treys. Moorhead improves to 12-1 overall and 8-1 in the NSIC. The Dragons will play No. 10 Winona State next Saturday in a big conference game.
Tetzlaff scored a game-high 26 points, one shy of his career best. He also had five rebounds, five assists, three steals and one blocked shot. Pryor scored 11 points - all in the first half - before leaving with his injury. Alex Thomas added 10 points for the Wolves, who drop to 8-5 and 4-5 in the NSIC.
NSU will travel to play Minnesota State, Mankato and Southwest Minnesota State on Friday and Saturday in a pair of conference games.
MINNESOTA STATE, MOORHEAD (12-1, 8-1 NSIC): Jordan Riewer 4-6 3-3 13, Charlie Chapman 5-8 5-6 18, D.J. Hamilton 7-15 8-9 24, Jake Lindfors 1-10 4-6 7, Alex Novak 1-1 0-2 2, Jake Driscoll 3-5 0-0 7, Andrew VanHavermaet 2-5 2-2 8, Xavier Reed 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 24-53 22-29 81.
NORTHERN STATE (9-5, 5-5 NSIC): Jared Hannigan 2-8 0-0 5, Alex Thomas 3-7 4-4 10, Geoffrey Firmin 2-5 0-1 4, Collin Pryor 5-6 1-2 11, Dustin Tetzlaff 9-15 8-8 26, Mitch White 0-3 0-2 0, Seth Bachand 3-7 3-3 9, Michael Emge 2-4 0-0 4, Trent Zomer 2-4 0-0 5. Totals 28-59 16-20 74.
Halftime score - MSUM 39-33. 3-point field goals - MSUM 11-25 (Riewer 2-3, Chapman 3-5, Hamilton 2-6, Lindfors 1-4, Driscoll 1-3, VanHavermaet 2-4); NSU 2-11 (Hannigan 1-5, Firmin 0-1, White 0-1, Emge 0-2, Zomer 1-2). Total fouls - MSUM 22; NSU 25. Fouled out - Riewer, Johnson, Bachand. Rebounds - MSUM 30 (Novak 6); NSU 35 (Tetzlaff 5, Hannigan 5). Assists - MSUM 10 (Chapman 5); NSU 16 (Tetzlaff 5). Blocks - MSUM 5 (Novak 2, Johnson 2); NSU 3 (Tetzlaff 1, Bachard 1, Hannigan 1). Steals - MSUM 7 (Hamilton 3); NSU 7 (Tetzlaff 3). Turnovers - MSUM 13; NSU 14. Officials - Rob Kueneman, Tim Garrett, Mark Ukestad. A - 3,207.
Northern State's Geoffrey Firmin takes a shot as Minnesota State, Moorhead's Jimmy Johnson plays defense on Sunday at Wachs Arena. American News Photo by Ryan Deal