Tigers 'clicking on all cylinders' in win
Shane Murphy could feel the energy growing in the Corn Palace.
His Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball team was making a strong first-half run against Mount Marty College, but he wasn't resting easy.
"I don't know if you're ever sitting back and relaxing as a coach," Murphy said. "You're just making sure your guys are keeping the hammer down."
DWU (11-12, 6-7 GPAC) went on a 26-9 run that spanned about nine minutes to end the first half, helping build a 17-point halftime lead that helped the Tigers pick up their 11th win of the season. Wesleyan defeated the Lancers 77-54 Wednesday night in a Great Plains Athletic Conference game.
"Team chemistry was there and the crowd backed us up," sophomore guard Kris Menning said of the run. "We were clicking on all cylinders."
Tied at 19 with 8:49 before halftime, Wesleyan got baskets from all angles and shot 60 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes. DWU's Aireus Stephenson had 15 of his game-high 20 points in the first half. Four Wesleyan players finished in double-scoring figures, including Mike Lee's 12 points, Luke Bamberg's 11 and Bo LaCroix's 10.
Murphy was happy with his team's defensive intensity late in the first half. He said his team did a good job keeping the same tempo in the second half, never letting Mount Marty get within single digits after the break.
Menning, who had eight points and a team-high nine rebounds, added his team played its best basketball of the season.
"This is definitely the most complete game we've had from start to finish," Menning said.
DWU post Jalen Voss got in foul trouble early in the second half, but LaCroix, Bamberg and Lee combined to step in for the scoring.
"Bamberg had one of his best nights, statistically, and just his presence out there was really good," Murphy said.
Wesleyan shot 51 percent from the field and won the rebounding battle 33-29. The Tigers committed 11 turnovers to the Lancers' 18. Mount Marty was led by Jeff Larsen, a Canova native, who had 14 points.
DWU is now on a two-game win streak. The Tigers travel to Doane College for a 4 p.m. GPAC game Saturday in Crete, Neb.
NOTES: Mount Marty's Chevy Fischer, a Chamberlain native, injured his right ankle late in the second half. He limped off on his own power, was held scoreless and had four rebounds. ... Dakota Wesleyan University tried out a tradition called "Silent Night," where the fans were quiet until the Tigers scored their 10th point of the game. Stephenson hit a floater at the 14:45 mark, sending the Tigers crowd into a frenzy. ... Joe Hieb, another Chamberlain native, had nine points for the Lancers.
DAKOTA WESLEYAN 77,
MOUNT MARTY 54
DWU (11-12, 6-7 GPAC)
Mike Lee 4-11 3-3 12, Kris Menning 3-6 1-3 8, Luke Bamberg 5-7 1-1 11, Aireus Stephenson 7-10 2-2 20, Jalen Voss 1-6 2-4 4, Carde Pennington 4-7 1-1 9, Trae Bergh 0-0 0-0 0, Bo LaCroix 4-5 2-4 10, Danny Maman 1-3 0-0 3, Stephen Lee 0-1 0-0 0, Jade Miller 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 29-57 12-18 77.
MMC (7-15, 3-11 GPAC)
Saladin Smith 4-7 4-4 13, Chris Richardson 4-6 0-0 9, Scott Odekirk 2-2 1-1 5, Joe Hieb 3-11 2-2 9, Austin Harms 0-7 0-0 0, Tyler Payer 0-1 0-0 0, Jose Pena-Benjamin 1-5 0-0 2, Jeff Larsen 7-10 0-0 14, Chevy Fischer 0-1 2-2 2, Alex Irvine 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 21-51 9-9 54.
Halftime: DWU 45-28. 3-point goals: DWU 7-18 (Stephenson 4, Lee, Menning, Maman), MMC 3-11 (Smith, Richardson, Hieb). Rebounds: DWU 33 (Menning 9), MMC 29 (Fischer 5, Richardson 5). Assists: DWU 13 (Lee 3, Stephenson 3), MMC 13 (Hieb 3). Turnovers: DWU 11, MMC 18. Total fouls: DWU 12, MMC 20. Fouled out: Odekirk, MMC. Technical fouls: None.