by Meg Keim
& Thor Thompson
The MSUM Dragon men’s team is dazzling the NSIC with an impressive start on the new season. With an undefeated record, the Dragons are starting strong with hopes to improve their team from last year. They ended last season winning the NSIC conference championship and hope to advance further this season.
They went to 9-0 last Tuesday as they soared past the Presentation College Saints from Aberdeen in a 111-40 win, while also racking up Coach Chad Walthall’s 200th win. Saturday, they improved to 10-0 with a 81-63 win over U-Mary from Bismarck.
Presentation College lost its 15th straight to a team in the NSIC Tuesday, with their last win coming in 2007. Scoring just eight points in the first half to the Dragons’ 61, the Saints started slow. The Saints didn’t score for 13 minutes to go into the half at 8-60 with the Dragons playing impressively. Ngijol Songolo opened the second half making some big plays and giving Jordan Riewer a rest. Leading all scorers on the team with 16 points, Songolo ended up being a factor in the game.
The stands were full with fans as they watched the Dragons defeat the Saints. A sea of red and black, the fans were with the team the whole way. With free-throw competitions and a gymnastics routine, the fans patiently awaited the second half of the game.
The Dragons allowed 32 points to the Saints in the second half and started making some plays and hitting three-pointers. They moved the ball around well and played efficiently while racking up points to end with 111.
The Dragons earned Coach Walthall his 200th career win Tuesday, 84 of which were at MSUM. In his fifth season as the Dragons’ coach, he’s been improving the team since his arrival in 2009. In his 200th win, MSUM lead the entire game. The next game, played Friday, had the Dragons return to playing teams in the NSIC.
The next test for the Dragon men came in the way of the fellow NSIC member Minot State Beavers. The hot-streak continued for MSUM as they shot over 58 percent from the field and over 50 percent from three-point range. The attack was extremely well-balanced with six Dragons in double figures, lead by Tyler Vaughn’s 15 points and six assists.
Moving to 10-0 after defeating U-Mary, the Dragons have shown that they deserve their No. 19 ranking. After competing valiantly last year in the NSIC, the high ranking doesn’t come as much of a surprise as last year’s team was young and hopeful. Becoming 3-0 in the NSIC, the season seems to be starting off with the Dragons on fire.
The next game is Monday at 7 p.m. in Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse where the Dragons hope to improve to 11-0 against Mayville State, a non-NSIC team. The next two games are away but they will be back home on Dec 20.