MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Junior Malik Wood had 16 points to help the Minnesota State University Moorhead men's basketball team top Concordia-St. Paul, 68-64 in the first round of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference/Sanford Health Tournament Wednesday night in Moorhead, Minn.
MSUM improved to 20-7 with the win while Concordia ended with an 8-19 mark. The Dragons won 20 games in a season for the second time in the last three seasons.
The Dragons will play Upper Iowa in the tournament quarterfinals at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D. Upper Iowa beat Minnesota Duluth, 86-81 on Wednesday in Fayette, Iowa.
Wood added four assists for MSUM. Junior forward Urbane Bingham added 11 points in 17 minutes off the bench. Senior guard Tarell Clark had nine point, a game-high 12 rebounds and three steals for MSUM.
MSUM shot 36.5 percent (23-of-63) for the game compared 53.3 percent (24-of-45). The Dragons held a 41-28 edge in rebounds, including a commanding 18-3 edge in offensive rebounds.
The biggest lead for either team was six points. The Dragons held a 60-59 lead with 1:22 left, but seconds later, Wood drained a basket to push the Dragon lead back to three at 62-59.
The Dragons got a stop, and on the ensuing possession, junior guard Jordan Riewer was fouled. Riewer, who leads the nation in free-throw shooting at 94.7 percent, drained a pair of free throws to push the lead to 64-59.
A three-point play brought the Golden Bears within 64-62, but free-throw shooting against proved huge for MSUM as sophomore Ngijol Songolo buried a pair of foul shots to push the lead to four.
Concordia got the lead to 66-64 with five seconds left. Again Riewer was fouled and drained two free throws to ice the four-point win for MSUM.
The Dragons led 20-16 with 9:46 left in the first half but were outscored by the Golden Bears 21-13 over the final nine minutes as Concordia-St. Paul took a 37-33 lead into halftime.
MSUM shot 40 percent (14-of-35) in the first half, compared to 70 percent (14-of-20) for the Golden Bears. Bingham had eight points for MSUM in the first half while sophomore Tyler Vaughan had six.
MSUM trailed 46-43 with 11:01 left but went on an 11-3 run to take a 54-49 lead with 6:19 left. Freshman Aaron Lien sparked that spurt with six points while Bingham drained a three.
Concordia cut the lead to two and from there, the game was close until the final buzzer.
Lien added nine points for MSUM.
The Dragons' game against Upper Iowa is slated to begin at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Courtesy MSUM Athletics