Defense leads DWU men to win over Mayville StateThe first 15 minutes for Dakota Wesleyan University’s offense weren’t appealing, but coach Shane Murphy was loving what he saw.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
The first 15 minutes for Dakota Wesleyan University’s offense weren’t appealing, but coach Shane Murphy was loving what he saw.
His team was playing impressive early-season basketball on the other end of the court, leading to a 61-55 victory over Mayville State Friday night at the Corn Palace in the Fulton State Bank Classic.
“You better be able to defend and be ready to defend,” said Murphy, the Tigers’ third-year head coach whose teams have won the opening game of the season every year he’s been with DWU.
The Tigers missed open shots in the first half and weren’t able to build a lead larger than five points. DWU starting point guard Aireus Stephenson’s bucket with 6 seconds left before the break gave DWU a 25-20 lead, but Mayville’s Steven Ivory Jr. hit a half-court shot at the buzzer that pulled the Comets within two points.
DWU was 11-for-31 in the first half from the field, but the Tigers forced Mayville into 13 turnovers. The Comets didn’t score until their third possession after losing the ball because of DWU’s pesky guards.
“The first half, it was tough to get a bucket,” said Tigers senior orward Bo LaCroix, who was named the game’s MVP with a game-high 16 points and added five rebounds. “But our defense is what we focus on. That’s our staple.”
Mayville erased its halftime deficit quickly in the opening of the second half with a pair of free throws and took a six-point lead with 17:35 to go.
But Stephenson, a transfer from South Dakota State University, scored six straight points and Carde Pennington scored a bucket inside to tie the game at 37 with 13:39 left. No team led by more than five points until DWU pulled away with free-throw shooting with less than a minute to play that sealed the game.
On three straight free throws on back-to-back possessions, Mayville pulled within 54-52 to make the game interesting. But a succession of offensive rebounds from free-throw misses — by Luke Bamberg, Danny Maman and LaCroix — helped the Tigers take a 57-52 advantage with 2:16 to go.
“Sometimes, and we’ve been trying to convince our guys, that it doesn’t have to be that big shot that you make,” Murphy said. “Sometimes, it’s that offensive rebound off the free throw. It’s getting the jersey dirty and getting that floor burn on a loose ball when you need it most.”
In the final minute, DWU hit 4-of-8 free throws for a nine-point lead, and Mayville hit a meaningless 3-pointer by Sam Hyman in the final second. The Comets finished the game shooting 36 percent from the floor and were outrebounded 44-34.
Ivory Jr. had a team-high 16 points and 10 rebounds and Hyman had 15 points for the Comets, who were defeated by DWU in last year’s Fulton Bank State Classic 71-48.
“The only three things I thought were missing tonight were we didn’t shoot the ball great, we didn’t get enough post touches early in the game and we were just a little bit impatient, which led to more turnovers than I’d like,” Murphy said. “ … I thought we made some of the adjustments we needed to in the second half.”
Bamberg and Stephenson each had 13 points for the Tigers, who last season held opponents under 56 points three times. Jalen Voss had a team-high nine rebounds and the Tigers shot 41 percent from the field.
DWU hosts Oglala Lakota at 8 p.m. today in the final game of the two-day Fulton Bank State Classic at the Corn Palace.
DWU 61, Mayville State 55
Dakota Wesleyan (1-0, 0-0 GPAC)
Carde Pennington 2-5 0-0 4, Danny Maman 1-6 0-0 3, Luke Bamberg 5-7 3-4 13, Aireus Stephenson 6-17 1-4 13, Jalen Voss, 3-6 2-5 8, Mike Lee 1-7 0-0 2, Bo LaCroix 5-9 6-8 16, Stephen Lee 0-0 0-0 0, Jade Miller 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 24-58 12-21 61.
Mayville State (2-1, 0-0)
Cody Coauette 1-1 1-2 3, Adam Edwards 1-2 0-0 3, Steven Ivory Jr. 6-14 3-6 16, Austin Emerson 3-9 0-0 7, Dexter Elliott 0-1 0-0 0, James Herr 0-1 0-0 0, Jacob Joramo 1-1 0-0 2, Michael Lindsey 3-11 0-3 7, Sam Heyman 4-8 4-4 15, Matt Bauduin 0-5 0-0 0, Dan Diaz 1-2 0-0 3. Totals: 20-55 8-15 55.
3-point goals: DWU 1-9 (Maman 1), Mayville State 7-19 (Hyman 3-4, Edwards 1-2, Ivory Jr. 1-1, Emerson 1-4, Lindsay 1-6, Diaz 1-1). Rebounds: DWU: 44 (Voss 9), Mayville State: 34 (Ivory Jr. 10). Turnovers: DWU: 14, Mayville State: 20. Steals: DWU 7 (Bamberg 3), Mayville State 10 (Emerson 3). Total Fouls: DWU 11, Mayville State 20. Technical Fouls: None.