MSU Moorhead scored six unanswered points in the final two minutes to snap a 62-62 tie as the Dragons rallied late for a 69-65 win over Wayne State in the opening round of the NSIC Sanford Health Men’s Basketball Tournament Wednesday evening at Nemzek Fieldhouse in Moorhead, Minnesota. The Dragons advance to the NSIC Tournament quarterfinals in Sioux Falls Saturday with a 18-11 record while WSC ends the year at 10-22.
Wayne State held the lead for most of the game (29:06 to just 3:15 for MSUM) while the game was tied for 7:39.
The host Dragons led early 4-2, then WSC used eight straight points from sophomore Nick Ferrarini on a jumper and pair of 3-pointers to take a 10-4 lead to force a Dragon timeout at the 16:18 mark of the half.
The ‘Cats pushed the lead to seven at 16-9 on a layup from Al’Tavius Jackson, but the Dragons made a charge at Wayne State and closed within one at 22-21 on a Bryce Irsfeld 3-pointer.
MSU Moorhead tied the score at 26-26 with 7:08 left in the half, but WSC closed the first half with four straight points from Ben Dentlinger to take a 40-31 lead at intermission.
Wayne State ended the first half shooting 56.7 percent (17-30) from the field while holding the Dragons to just 35.3 percent on 12-34.
The Wildcats continued to maintain their lead in the second half until the final five minutes when the host Dragons rallied.
WSC took their biggest lead of the night at 47-37 on a Jordan Janssen basket with 17:41 remaining.
MSU Moorhead then held the Wildcats without a point for the next 5:10 and tied the score at 47-47.
The Wildcats rebounded and scored nine of the next 11 points to take a 56-49 lead following a jumper from Dentlinger with 8:29 to play.
The Dragons came back and tied the game at 59-59 on a Nathan Rund 3-pointer at the 6:14 mark and took their first lead since 4-2 on a Irsfeld free throw with 4:25 to play.
Trailing 62-59, WSC used a Nate Mohr jumper and a free throw by Mohr to tie the game for the final time at 62-62 with 2:22 left.
Following a Wildcat turnover and missed shot on their next two possessions, MSU Moorhead took the lead for good on a layup by Dane Zimmer with 37 seconds to play.
After a Wildcat missed shot and turnover, Irsfeld made four free throws for the Dragons giving MSUM a 68-62 lead. Mohr made a 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds left for a 68-65 deficit and MSU Moorhead’s Johnny Beeninga made one of two free throws to finish the 69-65 Dragon victory.
Wayne State ended the game shooting 27 of 58 from the field for 46.6 percent. The ‘Cats were 5 of 18 behind the arc and 6-7 at the free throw line.
Nick Ferrarini scored 15 points for Wayne State. Dentlinger finished with 14 followed by Jordan Janssen with 13 points and 14 rebounds for his 17th double-double of the season. Mohr also reached double figures with 11 points.
MSU Moorhead made 23 of 60 shots for 38.3 percent, including 10 of 26 from the 3-point line. The Dragons were 13-19 at the foul stripe.
Gavin Baumgartner scored a game-high 21 points for the Dragons. Dane Zimmer and Bryce Irsfeld each accounted for 14 points with Kaedrick Williams scoring 11.
MSU Moorhead held a 38-34 edge in rebounding over the Wildcats despite a game-high 14 boards from Janssen.
Both teams had 10 turnovers in the contest. Janssen was credited with seven assists.