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Photo by Dave Wallis/The Forum/Forum Communications Co. Dickinson State sophomore forward Matt Lee, left, wrestles for the basketball against Minnesota State Moorhead sophomore center Alex Novak on Sunday afternoon during a nonconference men's basketball game at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.

MSU Moorhead beats Dickinson State in season opener

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MOORHEAD, Minn. - The new-look Minnesota State Moorhead Dragons started their season with a victory Sunday at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.

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In his first game with the team, junior guard Charlie Chapman poured in 20 points to help MSUM to an 81-68 victory against Dickinson State in nonconference men's basketball.

MSUM was also playing its first game under new head coach Chad Walthall.

"It's always nice having a fresh start ... it's a fresh start for everyone," said Chapman, a transfer from Williston State College. "It kind of made us grow as a team better. I liked how we shared the ball. It's always nice playing with players that share the ball."

The Dragons (1-0) split two exhibition contests before winning Sunday's regular-season opener over the Blue Hawks.

"What I think we've done is we've improved all three games and I think we've improved in all three areas - offense, defense and our transition game. I guess that's the only thing I can evaluate," said Walthall, whose former high school coach at Staples (Minn.), Lynn Peterson, was at the game. "I'm more happy for our players and for our team more than anything."

The Dragons held a slim two-point lead at halftime, but started the second half on a 19-7 run to pull away.

Blue Hawks head coach Ty Orton was also a finalist for the Dragons head job along with Walthall and two other candidates.

"I don't think we played hard," said Orton, whose team fell to 3-4. "That's the most disappointing thing. I'll take the loss and they hit some 3s ... I don't think we played hard."

The Dragons found their stroke behind the 3-point line to fuel that surge at the start of the second half.

MSUM hit six 3-pointers in the first 8-plus minutes of the second half.

Junior guard Andrew VanHavermaet, who came off the bench, sank a 3-point shot with 11 minutes, 51 seconds remaining in the second half to stake the Dragons to a 60-45 lead.

MSUM was 10 of 19 from 3-point range at that point.

"We've got some shooters. When we're hitting, we're hitting," said MSUM junior guard Jake Driscoll, who had 11 points and hit three 3-pointers. "I like that we held them under 70 (points). We played really well together, especially with all the new guys."

Chapman and junior guard Tarell Clark - also a transfer from Williston State College - started the game along with holdovers Driscoll, junior center Dennis Williamson and sophomore power forward Alex Novak.

The 6-foot-8 Novak and 6-6 Williamson both had strong games. Novak scored 16 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked three shots. Williamson added 15 points and nine rebounds. Both hit 7 of 10 shots from the field.

"All my teams have been based on the defensive side," Orton said. "Our defense was just not good tonight. It was a lack of effort. ... We got down a little bit. We played the scoreboard and we didn't play the possession and that hurt us."

DICKINSON STATE (3-4): Lebsock 2-11 4-44 10, T. Hurd 4-5 4-6 14, Lee 5-11 5-7 15, Hanstad 5-9 1-2 16, Fagerlund 0-1 0-0 0, Edward 0-0 0-0 0, J. Hurd 1-2 0-1 2, Boos 1-3 0-0 2, Morey 2-5 0-0 5, Kittleson 0-0 0-0 0, Hansen 1-3 1-2 4. Totals 21-50 15-22 68.

MSU MOORHEAD (1-0): Chapman 7-14 1-1 20, Ja. Driscoll 3-7 2-2 11, Clark 3-9 0-3 6, Novak 7-10 2-2 16, Williamson 7-10 1-3 15, Jo. Driscoll 0-0 1-2 1, VanHavermaet 2-8 0-0 6, Thompson 0-1 1-2 1, Reed 1-4 3-4 5, Olson 0-0 0-0 0.

Halftime: MSUM 38, DSU 36. 3-point goals: DSU 11-23 (Lebsock 2-5, T. Hurd 2-2, Hanstad 5-8, Boos 0-1, Morey 1-4, Hansen 1-3), MSUM 10-25 (Chapman 5-10, Ja. Driscoll 3-7, VanHavermaet 2-8). Total fouls: DSU 14, MSUM 22. Fouled out: Clark. Rebounds: DSU 20 (Lee 6), MSUM 37 (Novak 11). Assists: DSU 14 (Lebsock 5), MSUM 19 (Ja. Driscoll 5, Clark 5). Steals: DSU 7 (Lee 2), MSUM 4 (Ja. Driscoll 2). Turnovers: DSU 11 (Lee 4), MSUM 9 (Clark 2, Thompson 2).

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Eric Peterson
Peterson covers small college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

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