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Furious DWU comeback falls short in 89-84 loss to NWU

Dakota Wesleyan's Jalen Voss attempts a jumper late in the Tigers' 89-84 loss to Nebraska Wesleyan Saturday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. (Nick McCutcheon/Republic)

SIOUX FALLS – After trailing by double digits most of the game, the Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball team rallied late, but fell short in an 89-84 loss to Nebraska Wesleyan University Saturday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.

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The Tigers (5-4, 0-1 GPAC) trailed by as much as 24 points in the second half, but cut the Prairie Wolves’ lead to two a couple of times late. DWU failed to complete the comeback, dropping its Great Plains Athletic Conference opener.

“First thing I told the team after the game was how proud I was of the way they fought to the very end,” first-year DWU coach Matt Wilber said. “But we can’t put ourselves in such big holes.”

Trailing by 20 points with les than seven minutes remaining, the Tigers started putting things together. DWU scored 18 unanswered points to pull within two with 1:47 remaining.

The Tiger run included three 3-pointers from Mitchell native Jade Miller, who finished with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting.

Forward Jalen Voss had a chance to tie the game late, but missed a jumper in the lane and the Prairie Wolves hit their free throws to narrowly seal the win.

“We knew they were going to make a run of some sort, but we were able to get a couple of stops and hold on,” NWU coach Cam Schuknecht said about the game’s frantic finish.

Whistles slowed the pace of the game, as the teams combined for 54 personal fouls and shot a total of 79 free throws.

“It’s been like that in college basketball this year and we are just not deep enough to take fouls like that,” Wilber said.

Wilber was issued a technical foul in the first half for coming out on the court to far after he believed DWU guard Trae Bergh was fouled taking a 3-point shot.

“I was way to far out on the court and deserved to be called for the technical,” Wilber said.

The game was also the DWU basketball debut of senior Anthony Muilenburg, who recently finished his final season as a standout wide receiver for the Tiger football team.

“It’s quite a change,” Muilenburg said. “I haven’t played organized basketball since high school.”

Muilenburg finished with five points on 2-of-5 shooting, including one 3-pointer.

DWU had five players score in double figures, led by Mitchell native Tate Martin, who finished with 18 points on 3-of-6 shooting. Martin set up shop at the free throw line, hitting 12-of-14 attempts, while also dishing out a game-high eight assists.

Trae Bergh and Luke Bamberg each picked up a double-double in the loss. Bergh finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Bamberg scored 15 and pulled down 10 boards.

Minutes for Voss were limited due to foul trouble. The junior forward finished with 10 points and three rebounds in 22 minutes.

NWU also had five players in double figures, led by Trevor Johnson with 28 points, including 12-of-18 from the free throw line. Jonah Bradley added 15 for the Prairie Wolves.