Northern State advances to NSIC Tournament championship game

Sports

Sioux Falls, S.D. – The No. 21 Northern State men’s basketball team (25-6, 19-4 NSIC) took down the MSU Moorhead Dragons (19-12, 13-10 NSIC) 81-65 on Tuesday afternoon to advance to their third straight NSIC/Sanford Health Basketball Tournament championship game.

Mason Stark’s outstanding tournament continued Tuesday afternoon as he led the team to yet another victory. This tournament, Stark has shot an outstanding 77.3% from the floor for 62 points with an additional 12 assists. The Wolves will be looking for his dominance to continue when they play for their third straight NSIC tournament championship tomorrow night.

Northern’s defense was clicking early and often as the Wolves forced two turnovers in each of Moorhead’s first two possessions. The Dragons were held to around 20.0% from the floor for the first five minutes, allowing the Wolves to get out to an early lead.

However, it became clear that both teams were struggling with shooting accuracy as the half dragged on. Seven minutes into regulation neither team was shooting above 34.0% from the floor. Northern finally broke free from their shooting woes with an explosive 18-5 run midway through the half, featuring domination on both ends of the court by Parker Fox.

The complexion of the half seemed to change when Fox was forced to the bench with foul trouble late in the half. The Dragons were able to take advantage while his 6’8″ frame wasn’t looming under the basket, avoiding a double-digit deficit as Northern walked to the locker room with a 41-32 advantage.

The Dragons continued their momentum early in the second half, closing the gap to just five in the opening minutes. However, Northern’s defense began to take control soon after. Midway through the second the Wolves had already forced 11 turnovers for 14 points, allowing them to rebuild a double-digit lead.

As the second half continued it was clear that Northern was clicking on all cylinders. On defense, the Wolves held Moorhead to 36.9% from the floor, forced 12 turnovers, and blocked 11 shots. Meanwhile, the offense handed out a ridiculous 21 assists for their 30 baskets, allowing Northern to turn on cruise control for the last five minutes of regulation.

Northern shot 51.7% from the floor, 42.1% from beyond the arc and 76.5% from the foul line. 44 of their points came from the paint, 16 off of turnovers and another 16 from the bench.

Leading the team in scoring was Parker Fox, who’s 23 points were highlighted by five slam dunks. Next up on the leader board was Mason Stark with 18 points followed by Tommy Chatman, who had his best game of the tournament with 13 points and three rebounds.

Leading the team from the bench was Jordan Belka, going 4-of-6 for ten points. Andrew Kallman followed with eight points and five assists. Rounding out the scoresheet were Cole Dahl and Gabe King, notching six and three points respectively.

The Wolves will play the winner of Minnesota Duluth versus Minnesota State tomorrow night for the NSIC tournament championship. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. from the Stanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. Tickets can be purchased at the Pentagon box office or at ticketmaster.com.

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