MSU Moorhead shot 53 percent (24-45) from the field and nearly 85 percent (28-33) at the charity stripe as the Dragons continued their mastery over Wayne State College, posting their 11th straight win over the Wildcats dating back to 2013, with a 84-72 win in the opening round of the NCAA Central Regional Men’s Basketball Tournament Saturday evening at the Barnett Center in Aberdeen, South Dakota. The #4 seeded Wildcats end their season with an 11-7 record.
MSU Moorhead used hot shooting in the first half, making their first five attempts from the 3-point line, to build several double digit leads on the Wildcats.
After the teams traded baskets early and WSC held a 4-3 lead, the Dragons went on an 11-0 run and took a 14-4 lead on the Wildcats at the 14:41 mark of the opening half.
The Dragons held a 13-point lead at 21-8 with 11:56 to go in the half when the Wildcats made a run, scoring eight straight points on baskets from Jordan Janssen and Zach LaFave followed by back-to-back buckets from Ben Dentlinger that included a dunk, to gain momentum and cut the MSUM lead to 21-16 with 8:53 to go in the half.
Down 24-16, WSC used a Janssen basket, two Nate Mohr free throws and a layup from LaFave to close within two at 24-22 with 7:16 left before halftime.
But that’s as close as the Wildcats would get the rest of the half as the Dragons went on an 11-4 run to go up 35-26 and scored the final seven points of the first half in the last 1:07 to take a 43-30 lead at intermission.
MSU Moorhead continued their efficient shooting in the second half to maintain a double digit advantage over WSC for a majority of the second half.
Wayne State was trailing 66-54 at the 8:22 mark when the Wildcats made their biggest scoring surge in the second half and got within six points at 66-60 following a dunk by Dentlinger with 6:17 to play.
That is as close as the Wildcats would get as the Dragons pushed the lead to 12 at 74-62 and held a 16-point lead at 82-66 with under two minutes to play before finishing with the 84-72 win.
Junior guard Nate Mohr scored 15 of his team-high 17 points in the second half to lead Wayne State. Freshman guard Alec Millender and junior forward Jordan Janssen each added 15 points while senior forward Ben Dentlinger added 14 points.
Wayne State made 23 of 57 shots from the field for 40.4 percent, but hit just 4 of 19 3-pointers. The Wildcats were 22 of 29 at the free throw line for 75.9 percent.
Jacob Beeninga came off the bench and scored 16 points to lead four MSU Moorhead players in double figures. Lorenzo McGhee followed with 15, Gatdoar Kueth chipped in 13 points with Jesse Bergh scoring 11.
MSU Moorhead shot 53.3 percent from the field on 24-45 shots, including 8-14 (57%) from the 3-point line. The Dragons also made 28 of 33 free throws for 84.8 percent.
The Dragons held a 33-24 edge over WSC on the boards with Janssen grabbing five rebounds to lead the ‘Cats.
Janssen also led WSC in assists (4) and blocked shots (2).