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New-look Bulldogs hustle past Wildcats for Classic championship

Gary Holquist couldn't remember the last time that UMD (3-1) beat Northern Michigan in men's basketball, so the Bulldogs' head coach was quite pleased with Saturday's hard-fought 66-63 UMD triumph.

Gary Holquist couldn't remember the last time that UMD (3-1) beat Northern Michigan in men's basketball, so the Bulldogs' head coach was quite pleased with Saturday's hard-fought 66-63 UMD triumph.
"A lot of guys started to step forward for us tonight," said Holquist, who captured his second American Family Basketball Classic championship in three tries with the win. "The last 10 minutes is our time."
Indeed it has been for UMD in its last three games, all wins that became so in the game's final minutes.
"We can run," Holquist said. "When we get up and down the floor and wear down the other team, we're more effective."
That's a bit of a contrast to the recent Josh Quigley-led Bulldog teams, which featured more of a half-court game. Now with Quigley graduated, UMD has been forced to find new ways to win, and so far Holquist's new style has worked.
"This team is a little different than it was last year," Holquist said. "They're deeper, they can run, and they have better perimeter scoring."
They proved it over the weekend, putting up 102 points in a Friday night win over Chadron State, and pushing the tempo in the gut-check victory over the Wildcats on Saturday.
UMD clawed its way back from an early 12-4 deficit against the Wildcats and finally took the lead, 23-22, with Jake Nettleton at the line late in the half. Minutes later, Albrook's Matt Williams, just a freshman, gave the Bulldogs another boost by draining a three-pointer to make the score 26-24. The half ended with the Bulldogs maintaining that slim two-point margin, 35-33.
Northern Michigan, however, came on strong in the second half's opening minutes, overtaking the Bulldogs with a Jon Hare basket to make the score 46-45. The Wildcats eventually extended their lead to five points, 57-52, on a Matt LePage three-pointer with just 6:20 left, but then UMD made its late-game charge, culminated by Nettleton who sunk a jumper with 2:14 left to put the 'Dogs back into the lead 62-61.
Nettleton, however, was not finished. On Northern Michigan's ensuing possession, the speedy junior from Superior stole the ball from Scott Mueller, ran the length of the court, and slipped in a layup to put the Bulldogs ahead 64-61. The hustling play by Nettleton swung the game's momentum and ensured UMD its third victory of the season.
"It's entertaining basketball," Holquist said.
For his efforts, Nettleton was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. The Bulldogs also landed a pair of players, Ben Raymond and Jason Schneeweis, on the All Tournament team, while UMD's Ryan Nechodom was given the Sixth Man Award.
Williams, who was named All-State as a senior last year at Albrook, also made significant contributions over the weekend, in his own subtle way, dishing out seven assists in limited playing time.
"His disposition is such that he makes plays for others," said Holquist, who was not at all surprised that the 6-foot, 3-inch freshman has stepped immediately into the Bulldogs' lineup.
"I expected it," Holquist said. "He's a talented basketball player."
The Bulldogs will continue their nearly two-week long home stand tonight against the University of North Dakota, ranked No. 3 in the NCAA Division II North Central Region, at Romano Gymnasium. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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