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Dakota Wesleyan University’s Sawyer Gibson (4) looks to pass the ball inside as Dakota State University’s Seth Cavanaugh (12) guards him during the first half of nonconference men’s basketball game Wednesday at the Corn Palace. (Brooke Cersosimo/Republic)

Wesleyan men upset No. 18 Dakota State

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With Dakota State University threating the Tigers’ once commanding lead late in the fourth quarter, Dakota Wesleyan University put up a strong defensive front to hold off the No. 18 Trojans.

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In the final minute, DWU’s Tate Martin forced a big turnover to secure an 85-76 upset victory Wednesday night in front of a raucous crowd at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.

“Tate had a huge steal when they were within three and that was really indicative of his play tonight,” DWU first-year coach Matt Wilber said. “There’s just not any safe lead in our level.”

Although DWU (4-2) built leads as large as 10 in the first half and 17 in the second, the Trojans (3-2) proved why they’re nationally ranked.

“At the end, they were hitting shots,” said Martin, who finished with 15 points and nine assists. “They came closer and closer and we just had to lock down. We switched more and got our guy and got it done.”

After a back-and-forth opening 12 minutes, DWU’s offense went on a 15-5 run to take control of the half. Jalen Voss, who knocked down 18 first-half points, was a major asset in the paint for the Tigers, who shot 45 percent from the field in the opening half. Voss finished with a game-high 33 points and 13

rebounds for a double-double.

“I’m really proud of how he stepped up,” Wilber said of Voss. “He’s been in foul trouble a lot in our first couple of games, but when he’s not in trouble, he brings a lot to this team.”

After leading 37-31 at halftime, DWU knew it had to keep the pressure on the Trojans, who outrebounded DWU 43-38.

“We were knocking down shots in the first half and ended very well getting rebounds going into halftime,” Martin said. “We had a good lead and we knew we had to come out in the second half with a very big sense of urgency, so we could keep building the lead and not let them get back into it.”

The Tigers did just that early out of the locker room, building a 17-point lead — the largest of the night — with 12:45 left in the second half. DWU, which shot 42.9 percent from the field in the game, got big shots from all points of the floor, including a 3-pointer by Matt Henriksen to end a 9-0 run by the Trojans.

The Trojans cut the second-half deficit to 79-76 with just over a minute to play in the game, but DWU’s defense was too tough to overcome. Wilber was proud of his players’ effort to stop the charging Trojans late in the game.

“That’s a testament to our guys,” he said. “They are really together and we got contributions from everybody, and I can’t say enough about their effort tonight.”

Trae Bergh was DWU’s third player to score in double figures with 19 points.

The Trojans, which shot 41.3 percent from the field and 65 percent from the line, were led by Dylan Hale with 24 points with six 3-pointers. Yusuf Binson knocked down 22 points and had eight rebounds, while Marcus Smith had 16 points and eight rebounds.

The Tigers play a pair of games this weekend in Denver, facing Southwestern Christian University at 5 p.m. Friday and Johnson & Wales University at 5 p.m. Saturday.

NOTES: After a timeout on the inbound pass, DSU’s Hale dunked the ball to keep the Trojans’ comeback going with 8:09 left in the second half. But DWU’s Jade Miller had every intention of answering Hale as Miller went up for a two-handed dunk, provoking applause from all sides of the Corn Palace. Miller finished with eight points. … DSU freshman Seth Cavanaugh, a 2013 Mitchell High School graduate, got into the game for the Trojans, grabbing a defensive board. ... Binson had a technical foul in the second half.

Dakota Wesleyan 85

Dakota State 76

DWU (4-2)

Jalen Voss 11-21 11-12 33; Luke Bamberg 2-6 0-2 4; Trae Bergh 5-15 5-7 19; Tate Martin 3-7 7-8 15; Stephen Lee 1-1 0-0 3; Jaylen Uthe 0-0 0-0 0; Sawyer Gibson 0-1 0-0 0; Jade Miller 4-9 0-0 8; Matt Henriksen 1-3 0-0 3. Totals: 27-63 23-29 85.

DSU (3-2)

Dylan Hale 8-14 2-3 24; Marcus Smith 5-12 3-4 16; Adam Hofer 2-7 0-0 5; Yusuf Binson 9-18 3-3 22; Cameron Krump 0-2 3-7 3; Cameron Robinson 0-2 2-2 2; Seth Cavanaugh 0-2 0-0 0; Ryan McCutcheon 0-3 0-0 0; Jordan Snyder 2-3 0-1 4. Totals: 26-63 13-20 76.

Halftime: DWU 37-31. 3-point field goals: DWU 8-30 (Bergh 4, Martin 2, Lee 1, Henriksen 1), DSU 11-24 (Hale 6, Smith 3, Hofer 1, Binson 1); Rebounds: DWU 38 (Voss 13, Bamberg 4, Gibson 4, Miller 4), DSU 43 (Smith 8, Binson 8, Hale 6, Robinson 6); Steals: DWU 5 (Martin 3), DSU 6 (Hale 3); Assists: DWU 17 (Martin 9), DSU 13 (Robinson 5); Turnovers: DWU 11, DSU 14; Total fouls: DWU 19, DSU 20; Technical fouls: DWU 0, DSU 1 (Binson).

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Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.
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