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NSU men open Dacotah Bank Classic with win

The Northern State University men’s basketball team defeated the Mustangs of Midwestern State University (Texas) 84-70 Friday night in its first game of the Dacotah Bank Classic at Wachs Arena.

The Mustangs played a zone defense for most of the game, providing the Wolves with a challenge they had not faced previously this season. Northern exploited the zone by flashing forwards Jordan Belka and Jackson Moni to the high-post for open free-throw line jumpers.

“That’s not the style we usually play against,” Belka noted. “We play against primarily man-to-man in the NSIC (Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference). It took us out of what we usually like to do, but I thought we adjusted very well and we were able to hit the high post and play through that.”

The Wolves led 43-24 at halftime, ending on a 14-5 run. NSU made six of its nine 3-pointers in the first half and held Midwestern State to only 29.63% shooting on field-goal attempts.

Northern slowed down offensively to start the second half, and the Mustangs began to slowly chip away at the halftime deficit. MSU opened the second half on a 13-6 run in the first four and a half minutes of play.

However, the Wolves stymied the comeback push and prevented the deficit from reaching single-digits to claim their fifth win of the season.

“You saw in the second half what [Midwestern State] is capable of,” stated NSU coach Saul Phillips. “If we didn’t get off to that fast start, it would’ve been a dog fight all night.”

Belka led the Wolves in scoring with 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting. The senior is the only returning starter from the 2020-2021 team which was seconds away from reaching the Elite Eight in the NCAA Division II national tournament. He spoke on the differences between this season and his previous years in the program:

“We can’t replace Parker Fox’s 50-inch vertical,” Belka joked. “I love the way we are all growing together, moving forward and I think we are just hitting our stride.”

Northern State University’s Jacksen Moni, center, tries to shoot around Midwestern State University’s John Weger, right, during Friday’s game at the Dacotah Bank Classic at Wachs Arena. Photo by John Davis taken 11/26/2021

Of the 17 players on the current roster, 10 players are in their first season with the program. Phillips credits his players for their style of play throughout the first eight games of the season.

“When I came in and took over two years ago, we had a lot of guys that had played a lot of basketball together, and this year we had to wear name tags the first week,” said Phillips. “Our guys continue to find the open man, they continue to play unselfishly and they play for each other.”

The Wolves will conclude the Dacotah Bank Classic – as well as their non-conference schedule – against local foe Presentation College at 7 tonight at Wachs Arena.

To see a complete box score, click on the following link:

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