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Late rally sparks UMD to win

Minnesota Duluth men's basketball coach Gary Holquist watched Jamal O'Neal's shot go off the backboard and in for a 3-pointer Tuesday night and knew the Bulldogs were in trouble, trailing Minnesota State-Moorhead 63-55 with 5:32 to play.

Minnesota Duluth men's basketball coach Gary Holquist watched Jamal O'Neal's shot go off the backboard and in for a 3-pointer Tuesday night and knew the Bulldogs were in trouble, trailing Minnesota State-Moorhead 63-55 with 5:32 to play.

Holquist told the players on the bench that this could be a serious problem, and he barked out instructions to the floor: "You've got to grind through it!''

The Bulldogs listened. Rather than wilt, UMD got tough, going on a 19-2 run to defeat the Dragons 77-70 in a nonconference game before 892 at Romano Gymnasium.

Junior shooting guard Jordan Nuness scored 11 points during that run, including three 3-pointers, while junior post player John Vaudreuil added six points.

"That was a big-time run. That's how you win games,'' Holquist said. "When Moorhead made a big run on us in the second half, we relaxed, took our time and kept feeding that big horse inside (Vaudreuil) and he did a good job of staying on the block. As a result, that opened it up for Jordan on the outside. We showed a lot of maturity by not trying to catch up all at once.''

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The teams played a seesaw battle throughout, with UMD (7-3) trailing 36-33 at the half. The teams exchanged leads throughout much of the second half before Moorhead (6-3), which was playing without leading scorer Blake Strouth, suddenly took control with a barrage of long-distance shots.

O'Neal capped an 11-3 run with his banked-in 3-pointer with 5:32 remaining, one of Moorhead's 14 3-pointers on the night.

That's where Nuness and Vaudreuil took over. Vaudreuil credited having the weekend off for feeling refreshed on Tuesday.

"Especially with it getting to the end of the semester, everyone is stressing out, so it was nice get away from basketball and get some other stuff done,'' Vaudreuil said. "That gave us a chance to regroup, both mentally and physically.''

UMD had four players top 20 points in scoring, with Nuness and Vaudreuil scoring game-highs of 24 points each, and senior Bryan Foss adding 20 points and nine rebounds. For Vaudreuil, who scored 14 of his points in the second half, it was a career high.

"I think what happened was that we lost Nuness a couple times,'' Moorhead coach Stu Engen said. "Sometimes we gave a little too much help along the baseline and he drifted off to the corner and we lost him. That, combined with Vaudreuil taking over inside, did us in. Sometimes Vaudreuil looked like a man playing against boys out there. He's an animal.''

Holquist was also quick to praise point guard Ryan Breidenbach, who responded to a halftime pep talk by playing a disciplined second half. The senior only scored one point but had nine assists and five turnovers.

The Bulldogs will need quality play from Breidenbach going into Friday's home showdown with defending NCAA Division II national champion Winona State.

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"I thought Ryan was the key tonight,'' Holquist said. "As the point guard, I admit I'm a little harder on him than the other players. I gave him a pretty good chewing at the half, and I'm really proud of how he responded.''

MINNESOTA-STATE MOORHEAD (70)

Grant Fossum 7-17 2-2 19, Criag Williams 2-13 2-2 6, J.C. Seals III 1-2 0-0 3, Jamal O'Neal 6-11 0-0 17, Lee Isaacson 0-3 0-0 0, Matt Aakre 6-12 0-0 17, Matt Oye 0-0 0-0 0, A.J. Palmer 1-2 0-0 2, Dwayne Hardy Jr. 3-5 0-0 6, Adam Holte 0-2 0-0 0.

MINNESOTA DULUTH (77)

Ryan Breidenbach 0-5 1-2 1, Jordan Nuness 7-11 5-7 24, Bryan Foss 7-13 5-6 20, John Vaudreuil 8-13 8-8 24, Matt Rawley 2-5 0-0 4, Brian St. Peter 0-1 0-0 0, Steve Duncan 2-2 0-0 4, Matt Hockett 0-1 0-0 0.

Halftime -- MSU-M 36, UMD 33. 3-point goals -- MSU-M 14-32 (Fossum 3-8, Williams 0-5, Seals III 1-1, O'Neal 5-8, Aakre 5-10); UMD 6-9 (Nuness 5-6, Foss 1-2, St. Peter 0-1). Rebounds -- MSU-M 31 (Williams 6); UMD 37 (Foss 9). Assists -- MSU-M 14 (Williams 6); UMD 12 (Breidenbach 9). Fouls -- MSU-M 19; UMD 12.

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