By: Martin Schlegel
A large number of fans filed into Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse to watch a Moorhead rivalry. The Dragons convincingly defeated the Concordia Cobbers 97-61 in the “Battle of 8th Street” on Tuesday.
What started out as a back-and-forth contest, ended in a runaway victory for MSUM.
The two teams came out ultra-aggressive in the exhibition matchup. The Dragons and Cobbers insisted on driving the lane and looking for an advantage in the paint. The Dragons’ guards were especially aggressive.
Senior guard Tanner Kretchman said MSUM needed to play with energy and confidence.
“We can’t come out timid and expect to win,” Kretchman said about Concordia being a tough opponent. “They bring it and the past few years they’ve had some close games with us. We knew we had to come out with intensity right away.”
With Kretchman leading the way, Travaun Coad and Johnny Beeninga wore down the Cobbers all throughout the first half. Each of them continually drove to the hoop. The trio combined for 37 of the team’s 51 first-half points.
“We decided to space the floor and try to get downhill with guys like Johnny, Travaun and Evan (Hines),” Kretchman said. “All those guys can run downhill toward the basket really well.”
The Cobbers tried to match with quick ball movement, in attempts to open up its big man in the paint. Through the first half, Concordia’s passing wasn’t an issue; the results were, as the team scored just six points in the paint through 25 minutes of play.
“The first half we played pretty well defensively,” Kretchman said. “We really covered the three-point line well, and for the most part, rebounded pretty well in the first half.”
“I think we were a lot better in the gaps,” Coad said about the defensive effort. “We communicated a lot. We were all just 100 percent there.”
The Dragons widened its lead in the final 4:46 of the first half. Continuing to spread the ball to Coad, Beeninga and Kretchman, MSUM went on a 15-3 run.
In the second half, MSUM stretched its lead as big as 39 points and continued to hold it till the final buzzer.
Coad said each player played their respective role really well. When that happens, MSUM is a dangerous team. Coad also noted the spark Beeninga has added as of late.
“Johnny just came alive after our weekend in Texas,” Coad said. “He has a lot of confidence. He’s been the motor of our team.”
Beeninga finished the game with 18 points and 3 assists. Kretchman led the Dragons with 23 points and 4 assists. Coad added 15 points and tied Hines for the team-high in rebounds with 7.