For the men’s basketball team, weekend trips have been a product of two games, games have been a product of two halves, and halves have been a product of two styles. The Bulldogs split their weekend games for the seventh time this season. The Bulldogs now sit at 13-13 on the year and 10-10 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
When the Bulldogs play to their potential in an aggressive way, they win. When the Bulldogs lose their aggressive nature, they also lose the game.
On Friday night, the Bulldogs lost 89-67 to the MSU Moorhead Dragons. Ranked No. 9 nationally, the Dragons had one of the best records, 25-2, before the start of the game this past weekend. The Bulldogs and the Dragons had similar shooting percentages, assists and rebounds. However, the difference between the clubs came in the number of shots attempted and turnovers. The Bulldogs had 14 turnovers compared to the Dragons’ 5, and the Dragons shot 93 shots compared to the Bulldogs’ 68.
Bulldog senior Reece Zoelle thought the performance from the Bulldogs was a product of how great Moorhead has become.
“Moorhead is a great ball club,” Zoelle said. “They flat out just beat us. They made shots, we didn’t. By the second half, the hole we dug was too great to overcome.”
Zoelle is hinting at the comparison of halves that has been a Bulldog pattern all year. In the first half the Bulldogs shot 38 percent from the floor compared to 56 percent in the second half. They shot two for nine from the three-point arc in the first half, and a whopping seven for eight in the second half. This dichotomy of play followed them into their second contest as well.
On Saturday night the Bulldogs took home a victory against Northern State, another formidable opponent who sat at 19-6 before the start of the game. At halftime the score was 15-29 in favor of Northern State, but the second half featured a 52-point scoring barrage from the Bulldogs, who capped the game on two free throws from Taylor Lavery, winning 67-63. Top performers in the game included Zoelle, who finished with 17 points, and center Brett Ervin, who finished with 18 points and 7 rebounds.
Guard Zoelle chalked up his performance to trusting his skills.
“It all comes down to being aggressive and trusting your practice and preparation,” Zoelle said. “For me, when I play aggressive, I can get some things done out there on the court. So late in the season, I've been really focusing, personally, on being aggressive.”
The Bulldogs’ last regular season games begin next weekend at their home court in the Romano Gymnasium. They face the University of Mary, who they lost to narrowly, and Minot State, who they beat in a close game. The weekend will be the Bulldogs’ last chance to exhibit consistency against familiar opponents, and to ensure their seniors will leave UMD with victories.
Reece Zoelle knows what has to happen for this upcoming weekend to be successful.
“We (have to) continue to get consecutive stops on defense by not trading buckets with our opponents, and we need to stay aggressive on offense,” Zoelle said. “The more aggressive team usually comes out on top.”
BY WILLIAM E. CASSERLY