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College men's basketball: Northern offense stalls in second half in NSIC opener

American News, Aberdeen, S.D. — Jacque Niles American News, Aberdeen, S.D.

Dec. 02-- Dec. 2--Ahead by one at the half, the Northern State men's basketball team didn't quite get enough done in the second half, allowing Minnesota State Moorhead to inch ahead and ease away with an 81-74 victory Saturday night in Moorhead, Minn.

It was the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference opener for both squads and a bit of a momentum game, as well. Northern and MSU Moorhead both entered the night with 4-2 overall marks, having each won their last four contests. But a big second half for the Dragons meant it was Moorhead coming away with a fifth straight win and Northern sent home with a 4-3 mark.

After a back-and-forth first half, Northern began the second half with a one-point lead, which quickly dissipated into another see-saw battle.

Moorhead eventually took a 3-point lead and stretched it to two possessions, then three, and eventually to double-digits with under a minute to play in the contest.

"Too many empty possessions and too many trips to the foul line for them," said Northern State coach Saul Phillips. "We didn't do a good enough job of defending them without fouling."

That was the defensive issue, while the offensive issue turned out to be the flow. Phillips cited the lack of the extra pass out of a traffic jam as one reason for the empty possessions.

"Offensively, our assist numbers were way down," he said. "When that happens, we struggle to score. We've got to be better at that."

Gabe King finished with 18 points for the Wolves, including a stretch of seven straight early on that gave Northern its largest lead -- seven points -- of the game. Parker Fox had 17 points and eight rebounds, while Mason Stark finished with 11 points and Tommy Chatman 10. Andrew Kallman had eight points and eight boards before fouling out.

MSU Moorhead got 26 points from Gavin Baumgartner, who had three of the Dragons' five 3s in the game. Bryce Irsfeld had 19 points, as the duo combined to go 17-for-17 from the free throw line. As a team, Moorhead was 22-for-27 from the line, compared to just 9-of-14 for the Wolves.

Northern returns to Wachs Arena next weekend to host Bemidji State on Friday and Minnesota Crookston Saturday. Crookston was an 88-72 victor over Bemidji State back on Nov. 21. The Golden Eagles also claimed a 94-69 win over Sioux Falls in a non-conference meeting last Tuesday.

"Lot of season left," Phillips said. "We'll take this and learn from it."

Northern State 35 39 -- 74

MSU Moorhead 34 47 -- 81

NORTHERN STATE: Gabe King 7-11 2-3 18, Parker Fox 7-13 3-4 17, Mason Stark 5-11 0-0 11, Tommy Chatman 5-11 0-0 10, Andrew Kallman 3-9 1-2 8, Cole Dahl 2-5 2-3 7, Jordan Belka 1-6 1-2 3, Roko Dominovic 0-2 0-0 0, Jaylen Robinson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-68 9-14 74.

MSU MOORHEAD: Gavin Baumgartner 8-13 7-7 26, Bryce Irsfeld 4-8 10-10 19, Dane Zimmer 3-9 3-5 9, Kaedrick Williams 4-6 0-2 8, Joe Sevlie 0-1 0-0 0, Johnny Beeninga 4-7 2-2 11, Siman Sem 3-4 0-0 6, Jese Bergh 1-1 0-0 2, Wyatt Hanson 0-1 0-1 0. Totals 27-50 22-27 81.

3-pt FG -- NSU 5-21 (King 2-2, Fox 0-1, Stark 1-4, Chatman 0-2, Kallman 1-5, Dahl 1-4, Belka 0-2, Dominovic 0-2); MSUM 5-10 (Baumgartner 3-5, Irsfeld 1-2, Benninga 1-2, Hanson 0-1). Fouls -- NSU 21; MSUM 15. Fouled out -- NSU, Kallman. Rebounds -- NSU 27 (Fox 8, Kallman 8); MSUM 38 (Baumgartner 7, Ziimmer 6, Williams 6, Sem 6). Turnovers -- NSU 8; MSUM 16. Assists -- NSU 7 (Fox 3); MSUM 10 (Irsfeld 4). Steals -- NSU 6 (Kallman 2); MSUM 4 (Baumgartner 2). Blocks -- NSU 5 (Fox 4); MSUM 4 (Zimmer 2).

Follow @J_NilesAAN on Twitter.

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