HIBBING — Hibbing Community College men’s basketball coach Dave Wilson still had players flying in from break, so he wasn’t sure how his team would do in their first game back from the holidays.

As it turned out, the Cardinals put together their best effort of the season.

Hibbing put five players in double figures en route to an 85-76 MCAC Northern Division victory over Northland Wednesday at Dick Varichak Gymnasium.

Moe Washington led the way with 27 points, followed by Rasonte Smith with 17. Conor Goggin, Steven Buhl and Stephon Smith each had 10.

“They came back a lot more prepared than I thought,” Wilson said. “They played hard on defense, they let the offense come to them and they got the victory.”

Hibbing led for the entire game, taking a 36-30 lead into halftime.

The Cardinals actually let the Pioneers hang around too long, according to Wilson.

“You could tell that they had those lazy legs,” Wilson said. “We didn’t get in a lot of practice time, a lot of running in. I tried to control that by substituting as much as I could. A couple of these guys had just gotten off airplanes that morning.

“I knew it was going to be tough, but this went way better than I thought. I thought there would be a lot more lag because they would be a lot more lazy. They picked it up. They played defense first, and they played offense second. That’s what got them the win.”

Hibbing started pulling away early in the second half, grabbing a 10-point lead, 44-34, with 17:11 to play, and the Cardials maintained that 10-point lead, 50-40, with 14:11 remaining in the game.

The Pioneers cut the deficit to eight at one point of the second half, but Hibbing 13, 71-58, with 6:00 showing on the clock.

The Cardinals did that by sharing the ball, which is what Wilson wants to see.

“This is the most assists we’ve had,” Wilson said. “I told them that we won this game together, as a team. There were no I’s. It was a big ‘We’ tonight. If they want to keep that going, they have to keep that same mentality.”

Hibbing kept increasing its lead and hit a high-water mark of 15, 81-66, with under five minutes to play.

“What happened is that a couple of guys who came off the bench, they played to their fullest potential,” Wilson said. “We didn’t have much dropoff when people came off the bench.

“I credit them, who were on the bench, for us getting that lead.”

From there, the Cardinals closed it out to pick up an important-division win.

“In conference play, you have to control your home court,” Wilson said. “If you’re going to split, split on the road. You can’t split at home. Teams aren’t going to give it up to you at their place.

“The one thing we did was control our home court. We’ll take that win if we can get it at home.”

Northland got 22 points from Zack Meyer. D’Mani Nettles had 15, A.J. Jennings 12 and Ashawn Phillips 10.

NCC 30 46 — 76

HCC 36 49 — 85

Northland: A.J. Jennings 12, D’Mani Nettles 15, Jaylen Webb 9, Ashwan Phillips 10, Zack Meyer 22, Kenny Placide 7, Jaelin Domingue 1.

Hibbing: Rasonte Smith 17, Moe Washington 27, Schuyler Pimentel 4, Conor Goggin 10, Steven Buhl 10, Ray Washington-Battle 7, Stephon Smith 10.

Total Fouls: Northland 10; Hibbing 15; Fouled Out: None; Free Throws: Northland 7-12; Hibbing 8-11; 3-pointers: Jennings 2, Webb, Meyer 4, Rasonte Smith 2, Washington 3, Goggin 2.

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