DWU men get postseason berth with win over Briar CliffIn a way, the playoffs started early for the Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball team.
By: By OWEN REITZEL, The Daily Republic
In a way, the playoffs started early for the Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball team.
The formula to get into the Great Plains Athletic Conference postseason tournament was easy: Get a victory over Briar Cliff Saturday night in the final regular-season game and advance to the playoffs, or lose, and the Tigers’ season would be over.
The Tigers advanced to the playoffs and will be the No. 8 seed with a hard-fought 81-75 GPAC win over the Chargers at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.
“For our guys to dig in and get some crucial stops and make some shots at the other end was really great for our guys,” Wesleyan coach Shane Murphy said.
Briar Cliff broke to an early 10-8 lead, but the Tigers went on a 12-2 run and a 20-12 lead.
The Chargers fought back and with 5:04 left until intermission a 3-point shot from Zach Otting tied the game at 28. The Tigers closed out the half by outscoring BC 15-7 and a 43-35 lead into halftime.
Senior Mike Lee scored 10 first-half points to help DWU close out the first half shooting 63 percent from the field.
“There was a lot of emotion,” said Lee, a senior guard who played his last home at the Corn Palace and played with an injured leg. “I was just trying to come out here and do anything I could for the team, injured or not.”
The opening of the second half saw the Chargers close to within 44-40, but a basket from Lee and a 3-point basket from Carde Pennington pushed the DWU lead to 49-40.
BC slowly chipped away at the Tiger lead, and with just under 10 minutes to play the Chargers regained the lead at 59-58 on two free throws from Jake Shipley.
DWU held a 69-68 advantage with just under five minutes to play thanks to Bo LaCroix, another senior who scored five straight points to keep the Tigers ahead.
“It felt really good,” said LaCroix. “This year has been up and down and to come out and to finish like that here at home was nice.”
DWU went on an 8-3 run and a 77-71 lead with 1:44 left in the game.
But BC wouldn’t go away, and after a Tiger turnover at the 36-second mark, the Chargers pulled to within 79-75 on a basket from Shipley.
But free throws from Lee and Luke Bamberg sealed the win for DWU.
“Persevere is a good word,” Murphy said. “We had built a pretty good lead in the first half, but in the second half they got a little momentum going and had us back on our heels.”
Murphy was hoping to take build on this win when the Tigers open the playoffs Wednesday at Northwestern.
“Now that we won, you take this as a good learning experience to get ourselves ready for what it’s going to be like Wednesday at Northwestern,” he said.
Jalen Voss led the Tigers with 19 points and nine rebounds with Lee scoring 16 points.
DWU (14-16, 9-11 GPAC) was 34-of-59 for 58 percent from the floor and 9-of-18 for 50 percent from the free-throw line. The Tigers held a 32-31 rebounding edge over BC and turned the ball over 10 times.
“I told the guys after the game that they played hard and played together,” BC coach Nic Nelson said. “The way we looked at it, we just weren’t good enough defensively to get stops down the stretch and it’s been our problem all season long.”
The Chargers were led by Shipley with 27 points, Taylor Murren with 19 points and Otting with 10 points.
BC (19-11, 10-10) made 27 of 60 field goals for 45 percent and of 10 free throws for 90 percent.
The Chargers will open the playoffs at Dordt Wednesday.
BRIAR CLIFF 75
DWU (14-16, 9-11 GPAC)
Mike Lee 7-8 2-5 16; Kris Menning 2-3 0-0 6; Luke Bamberg 3-4 1-4 7; Aireus Stephenson 3-10 2-2 8; Jalen Voss 9-15 1-1 19; Carde Pennington 4-8 0-0 9; Bo LaCroix 3-5 3-6 9; Danny Maman 0-2 0-0 0; Jade Miller 3-4 0-0 7 ; Stephen Lee 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 34-59 9-18 81.
BC (19-11, 10-10 GPAC)
Taylor Murren 7-14 0-0 19; John Engler 1-4 0-0 3; Jake Shipley 10-15 4-5 27; Turner Fahey 0-6 0-0 0; Michael Colison 0-3 2-2 2; Ricky Torres 3-5 2-2 9; Clay Harreld 2-5 0-0 5; Kale Wietfeld 0-0 0-0 0; Matt Berg 0-0 0-0 0; Zach Otting 4-8 1-1 10. Totals: 27-60 9-10 75.
Halftime score: DWU 43, BC 35. 3-point goals: DWU 4-11 (Menning 2, Miller 1, Pennington 1), BC 12-29 (Murren 5, Shipley 3, Engler 1, Torres 1, Harreld 1, Otting 1). Rebounds: DWU 32 (Voss 9), BC 31 (Engler 9). Turnovers: DWU 10, BC 11; Assists: DWU 16 (Menning 4, Stephenson 4, Pennington 3), BC 15 (Engler 4, Fahey 4). Total fouls: DWU 13, BC 18. Fouled out: None; Technical fouls: None.