Mason Stark dove on the ball and, in the split-second he had control of the ball enough to do so, somehow tossed it backwards over his head to a wide-open Parker Fox on the other end of the court.

The Northern State big man, given no more resistance than he'd get in a dunk contest, wound up, left the ground and threw down a 360-degree slam, sticking out his tongue as he hung on the rim.

Fox was immediately hit with a technical foul. It's hard to imagine he cared.

Northern State tripled a 13-point halftime lead behind Fox's 24-point, 11-rebound double-double and four other players in double-figures scoring, routing Minnesota Crookston men's basketball, 97-60, in an NSIC game on Friday night at Lysaker Gymnasium.

"Games like this, you gotta just let go," said freshman guard Tyrese Shines.

The Wolves, tied for first in the NSIC North, improved to 11-4 and 7-2 in conference play. The Golden Eagles, meanwhile, fell to 7-8 and 3-6 after their fourth straight loss and sixth in seven games.

"I thought we came out with the right energy," said UMC head coach Dan Weisse. "(At halftime) you could get yourself back into the game, but they started out the second half on a little run and I guess I didn't like the how we handled things."

UMC trailed for just about the entire game, but kept within range during the first half, this despite hitting less than 30 percent of their field goals, going into the break down 40-27.

While the Golden Eagles compensated for their poor shooting by getting to the line (eight free throws, compared to zero attempts for Northern State) and by forcing 10 turnovers, they could only do so for so long. The Wolves hit 52 percent of their shots in the first and improved that figure to 62 percent in the second, and hit 13 of 26 3-pointers for the game.

"As the game goes on and the ball's not going through the rim, in basketball it may not happen all at once, but slowly and surely," Weisse said. "If you shoot 9-of-33 in the first half, chances are, you're not gonna win."

Northern State didn't take its time in turning the game into a bloodbath. The Wolves began the second half on a 13-4 run and ran off a 15-4 run not long after, after which Weisse finally threw in the towel and emptied his bench.

"At the beginning we had momentum but it shifted," Shines said. "They got a couple transition points and they kinda took over the game. We didn't come back, we got down on ourselves."

Harrison Cleary (Sr., G), couldn't bail Minnesota Crookston out Friday night, as the nation's leading scorer scored just 13 points on 2-of-18 shooting. Shines was the Golden Eagles' most efficient offensive player, with a career-high 10 points.

For the game, UMC shot just 33 percent — the third straight game it's shot less than 35 percent from the field, and hit just two of 16 3-pointers.

"They're a very good team and they had a few more weapons," Weisse said. " ... We can't play the blame game. Each guy, coaches included, has to hold each other accountable."

UP NEXT: Minnesota Crookston plays Minnesota State Moorhead on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Lysaker Gymnasium.

The Dragons are 9-6 and 5-4 in NSIC play. They lost to the Golden Eagles, 68-65, on Dec. 6 in Moorhead after Ibu Jassey Demba's buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

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