Central region

Defending Northwest Missouri State national champion ends Dragons season at Central Region tournament – Reuters

SIOUX FALLS, SD — Northwest Missouri State used several mini-point bursts in the second half that Minnesota State’s Moorhead couldn’t match.

The Bearcats had a strong second half to earn a 69-54 win over the Dragons on Saturday in the first round of the Central Region NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Sanford Pentagon.

“They’re a championship team and program and they just have a lot going for them and they’ve played extremely well defensively,” Dragons head coach Chad Walthall said of the Bearcats.

The No. 6-seeded Dragons (19-12) had their eight-game winning streak snapped, ending their season. The No. 3 seeded Bearcats (29-5) advanced to the regional semifinals and have won three national championships since 2017, including last season.

“It’s one of the most special teams I’ve had,” Walthall said. day, maybe not, but today they were better.

Minnesota State Moorhead guard Lorenzo McGhee reacts after scoring a field goal against Northwest Missouri State on Saturday, March 12 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.

Avery Nelson / Dragons Athletics

Junior guard Trevor Hudgins scored 19 points and added four assists to lead the Bearcats, who retired late in the game after the Dragons tied the game less than three minutes into the second period.

“He’s just a very, very talented player,” Walthall said of Hudgins. “He’s just a guy who has a lot of poise. … He’s the catalyst.”

Northwest Missouri State shot 53% (16 of 30) from the floor after halftime, while the Dragons shot 36% (10 of 28) from the field in the final 20 minutes.

“We just kept better,” Bearcats head coach Ben McCollum said. “We knew they were good if not one of the best teams in this area and we were lucky to be able to come away with a win.”

The Dragons tied it at 31-31 after a Gabe Myren layup with 17 minutes and 30 seconds left in the second half. The Bearcats responded with a 7-0 push and took a 38-31 lead after Wes Dreamer sank a 3-pointer with 15:16 remaining. The MSUM never led in the second half.

“I would say our offense was a bit shaky tonight,” Hudgins said, crediting the MSUM defense. “We had a few points. … But I don’t feel like we hit our throughput, but our offense was good.

Moments later, the Bearcats scored five straight points and took a 43-35 lead after a 6-foot Hudgins scored on a drive to the basket with 12:54 left.

Northwest Missouri State scored another six-game point streak to push its lead into double digits. The Bearcats took a 49-37 lead after junior guard Diego Bernard scored on a layup with 10:25 left. MSUM never reduced the deficit to single digits from that point.

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Minnesota State Moorhead guard Gavin Baumgartner, right, dribbles around Northwest Missouri State guard Isaiah Jackson Saturday, March 12, at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, SD

Avery Nelson / Dragons Athletics

“It sucks to be short, but they’re a great team we just played against,” said Dragons guard Gavin Baumgartner, who had 12 points and seven rebounds. “It’s one of the best parts of the country, I think.”

The Bearcats added another 7-0 streak to push the lead to 65-48 after Bernard had two foul shots with 2:41 remaining. Northwest Missouri State played in the lead for more than 31 minutes.

“Tough kids, tough team,” McCullom said of his players. “They make me feel like I can train a bit.”

Main striker Gatdoar Kueth enjoyed a big first half to help keep the Dragons close. He scored 15 points on 5-for-5 shooting from the floor, including three 3-pointers, before halftime. The 6-foot-6 Kueth finished with a team-high 17 points.

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Minnesota State Moorhead forward Gatdoar Kueth led the Dragons with 17 points against Northwest Missouri State on Saturday, March 12, in the first round of the Division II Men’s Basketball Tournament. NCAA in Central Region at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.

Avery Nelson / Dragons Athletics

Neither team led by more than six points in the first 20 minutes and the Dragons took a 22-21 lead after a steal and layup from Bryce Irsfeld with 4:27 left in the first half.

“They didn’t let us through, they stuck together as a team,” Hudgins said. “The shots weren’t falling for us and our offense was rather slow at first, but credit to their defence.”

The Bearcats replied with six straight points. Bernard capped that push with a layup that gave Northwest Missouri State a 27-22 lead with 1:10 remaining until halftime.

Kueth capped off his stellar half with two free throws that cut the Bearcats’ lead to 27-24 with 46 seconds left in the half. Northwest Missouri State took that lead at halftime. The Dragons shot 43% (9 of 21) from the floor and 44% (4 of 9) from 3-point range, but committed 13 turnovers at halftime.

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Minnesota State Moorhead guard Lorenzo McGhee (1) drives through the Northwest Missouri State defense Saturday, March 12 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, SD

Avery Nelson / Dragons Athletics

The Dragons hadn’t lost a game since Feb. 4 before Saturday’s setback.

“It was awesome,” Baumgartner said. “We’re really deep. We had a lot of guys who trusted the process, we finally figured it out. We all hooked up and finally found a flow.”

MSUM (19-12): McGhee 2-12 1-3 6, Stanley-Williams 2-4 1-2 5, Myren 4-8 2-2 ​​10, Baumgartner 5-9 0-1 12, Bergh 0- 1 0 -0 0, Sem 0-0 0-0 0, Gastner 0-0 0-0 0, Irsfeld 1-3 0-0 2, Hanson 0-1 0-0 0, Zimmer 0-0 0-0 0 , Kueth 5-5 4-5 17, Beeninga 0-4 2-2 2, Kaiser 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 19-49 10-15 54.

NWMS (29-5): Bernard 4-8 3-3 11, Dreamer 6-14 2-2 16, Alexander 1-1 3-4 5, Hudgins 8-17 2-2 19, Waters 4-7 1-1 10, Schomers 0-0 0-0 0, Mascari 2-3 0-0 4, Stanislav 0-0 0-0 0, Jackson 2-5 0-1 4, Abreu 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27- 56 11-13 69.

Half: NWMS 27, MSUM 24. 3-point goals: MSUM 6-17 (McGhee 1-4, Baumgartner 2-4, Bergh 0-1, Irsfeld 0-1, Hanson 0-1, Kueth 3-3, Beeninga 0-2, Kaiser 0-1), NWMS 4-17 (Bernard 0-1, Dreamer 2-6, Hudgins 1-6, Waters 1-3, Mascari 0-1). Total fouls: MSUM 15, NWMS 19. Rebounds: MSUM 25 (Baumgartner 7), NWMS 35 (Dreamer 12). Aids: MSUM 7 (McGhee 3), NWMS 10 (Hudgins 4). Turnover: MSUM 18, NWMS 15.

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Minnesota State Moorhead guard Gabe Myren (11) rises for a shot against Missouri Northwest State guard Diego Bernard (1) on Saturday, March 12 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, SD

Avery Nelson / Dragons Athletics

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Minnesota State Moorhead guard Lorenzo McGhee, right, is challenged on a shot by a Northwest Missouri State defenseman Saturday, March 12, in the first round of the men’s basketball tournament at the NCAA Division II Central Region at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, SD

Avery Nelson / Dragons Athletics