Mustangs edge Dragons in NSIC Tournament First Round

MOORHEAD, Minn. (MSUM Athletics) -- The Minnesota State University Moorhead men's basketball team was edged by Southwest Minnesota State University, 86-81, in the opening round of the NSIC/Sanford Health Tournament Wednesday night in Nemzek Fieldhouse. Five Dragon players scored in double digits.

MSUM finishes the season with an overall record of 19-12, while the Mavericks improved to 16-13.

Senior forward Addison Park led the team with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Travaun Coad had 18 points, eight rebounds, and three assists on the night. Freshman guard Bryce Irsfeld had 13 points while freshman guard Gavin Baumgartner and junior guard Johnny Beeninga each recorded 11 points.

The Dragons shot 56.9 percent (33-of-58) from the field compared to 55.6 percent (30-of-54) for the Mustangs. MSUM outrebounded SMSU 35-20 but had 14 turnovers compared to five for SMSU.

The Dragons fought back from an early deficit to tie the game 6-6 off a layup from Coad with 16:17 on the clock. There would be back-and-forth action before a layup and free-throw from freshman guard Siman Sem pushed the Dragon lead to 15-10 with 12:45 remaining in the half. SMSU would tie the game with 9:32 on the clock before a jumper from Park game MSUM the 20-18 edge. Another late tie would be broken by Park as he sunk a free-throw to even the score at 29-29 with just under three minutes to go. The Mustangs would hold a slight lead through the final minute before a three pointer from Coad at the buzzer gave MSUM the 38-37 lead going into the break.

SMSU opened the second half on a 12-2 run before a layup from Park had the Dragons trailing 49-42 with 16:01 to go. Two threes' from Irsfeld cut the Mustang lead to 57-52 before a layup and free-throw from Park cut the lead to 57-55 with 11:47 on the clock. An offensive rebound and dunk from Coad tied things up 57-57 a minute later, but a seven-point Mustang run gave SMSU the lead again.

With 6:24 remaining, a layup and free-throw from Beeninga cut the Dragon deficit to 69-67. Baumgartner would sink a layup and free-throw to pull within one as MSUM only trailed 73-72 with less than five minutes to go. The Mustangs would make five free-throws down the stretch as MSUM could not close the gap and fell 86-81.

Tonight's game marked the last for seniors Addison Park, Travaun Coad, and Jake Johnson.