History was made last Wednesday as the MSUM’s women’s and men’s basketball teams hosted their first Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference playoff doubleheader in school history at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.
Qualifying for the NSIC tournament for the 14th year, the Dragon women claimed a 62-50 victory over the University of Sioux Falls (S.D.).
“It certainly wasn’t a pretty game,” women’s head coach Karla Nelson said. “We had to maximize any opportunities we got.”
Senior guard Kaycee Charette did just that. In the second half, the senior who put up 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds scored a 4-point momentum-changing play for the Dragons.
“It was a huge play for us,” said Nelson. “I felt like Sioux Falls had the momentum and really, that took the momentum back for us. We were just hanging on for dear life right there.”
Fueled by Charette’s solid all-around performance, the Dragons put on a phenomenal team effort. Four Dragons scored into double digits against the Cougars, two recording double-doubles.
“Right now it’s a team game,” Charette said. “For me, I don’t really care about scoring the points, I just want to make sure I’m contributing somehow.”
Junior forward Megan Strese notched 13 points and 14 rebounds. Junior forward Morgan Zabel recorded a team high 15 points from off the bench.
“It was a good team effort,” Nelson said. “Overall I thought we did a good job defensively and that’s really what saved us.”
Heading into their third straight NSIC tournament appearance, the Dragon men picked up right where the women left off as they went on to beat Southwest Minnesota State 87-78 in front of 1,127 fans.
“Southwest State is probably the most efficient offensive team, so we knew that they were going to be able to score points,” men’s head coach Chad Walthall said. “We had to play great offense.”
All five Dragon starters scored into double-digits.
“To beat a team like that, it was really just a total team effort,” Walthall said.
Senior forward Alex Novak led the Dragons with 20 points and 17 rebounds. Sophomore guard Jordan Riewer poured in a game-high 21 points as he shot 13-13 from the free-throw line.
MSUM trailed the Mustangs 36-33 at halftime. “I think the biggest key was that we had 12 turnovers in the first half and four in the second,” Walthall said. “I mean, that’s about the only thing I talked about at halftime.”
The Dragons went on a 15-0 rally in the second half, which held the Mustangs scoreless for more than five minutes.
“We changed a little bit defensively how we were handling them,” Walthall said. “I think they were (scoreless) for about five minutes or so, and we kept scoring.”
Both teams faced Minnesota State University, Mankato in second round action on Saturday in Mankato.
The men faced the No. 7 Mavericks and jumped out to an early lead, but a back-and- forth game ended with a 63-87 Mavericks victory.
The Dragons were behind 43-32 at halftime but came within one when they opened the second half on a 10-0 run.
After the Dragons 10 point run, the Mavericks started to build a lead they would not surrender.
Tucker led the Dragons with 16 points. Novak added 13 points and nine rebounds.
The men’s team finished the season at 19-11.
The women took on No. 17 Minnesota State University, Mankato and were unable to overcome a 20-0 start by the Mavericks.
The Dragons trailed 41-25 at halftime and the Mavericks opened the second half with a 12-2 run. The Mavericks defeated the Dragons 57-75.
Junior forward Morgan Zabel led the Dragons with 15 points, while Charette added in 11 points.
The women’s team finished the season at 16-12.
BY MADALYN LASKE