EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Minnesota State-Moorhead’s historic season came to an end on Wednesday night as the Dragons fell to Bellarmine 92-75 in the Division II Elite Eight quarterfinals at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind.
MSUM, which a school record for most wins in a season on its way to the Elite 8, ended the year at 35-4, while Bellarmine improved to 31-3 with the win.
Four Dragons scored in double figures, led by junior guard Tyler Vaughan and sophomore guard Aaron Lien with 13 points each. Senior forward Urbane Bingham, playing in his final game as a Dragon, had 12 points and five rebounds, while senior guard Jordan Riewer, also playing in his final game, chipped in with 11 points and a game-high six assists. Vaughan led with three steals.
The Dragons shot 47.5 percent (29-of-61) for the game while the Knights shot 60.7 percent (37-of-61). Bellarmine had a 32-27 edge in rebounds.
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MSUM led 4-2 after an Aaron Lien basket 56 seconds into the game. Bellarmine followed with a 15-5 run to build a 17-9 lead with 14:02 left in the half.
The Dragons were down by as many as 12 in the first half but a three from Vaughan, followed by a Riewer basket, brought them within 42-37 with 2:09 left in the half. The Dragons trailed 49-43 at halftime.
Vaughan had 13 first-half points for MSUM while Lien and Bingham had eight points each. Riewer had five first-half assists. All MSUM shot 52.9 percent (18-of-34) in the first half while Bellarmine shot 67.9 percent (19-of-28).
The Dragons climbed within 53-48 with 17:46 left after a basket by junior forward Isaac Sevlie, but Bellarmine went on a 12-0 run over the next three minutes to push the lead to 65-48. A three-pointer by freshman guard Tanner Kretchman brought MSUM within 69-56 with 12:36 left but the Dragons were not able to get closer the rest of the way.
Sevlie and senior Prescott Williams had seven points each for MSUM.
The game was the final for three Dragon seniors: Riewer, Williams and Bingham. Riewer leads MSUM as the school’s all-time leader in assists and three-pointers.
Steve d’Eustachio Stat of the Game: The Dragons won 14 more games (35-4) this season than they did last season (21-8) which marks the record for the greatest win increase from one season to the next in Dragon history. The Dragons beat the mark set by the then the 1946-47 Dragon squad that went 16-11, for a win increase margin of 13 games more than the 1945-1946 Dragons outfit that finished 3-15.