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Tigers start fast, lose GPAC game

Dakota Wesleyan University's Justin Nelson (3) goes up for a jump shot during a Great Plains Athletic Conference game Wednesday at the Corn Palace.

The Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball team came out firing and led 11-0 early in the first quarter, but struggled from then on, falling 81-59 to Morningside College on Wednesday night at the Corn Palace.

The loss drops Dakota Wesleyan to 14-11 overall and 6-9 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference. The Tigers will look to bounce back on Saturday as they travel to take on Midland in a GPAC game with a 4 p.m. tipoff.

Morningside (14-11, 9-7 GPAC) remains tied for fourth place in the conference, while Dakota Wesleyan is hanging on to a playoff spot. The Tigers are in a three-way tie for sixth in the league. The Tigers are one game up on Hastings (5-10 GPAC) for the ninth spot. Only the top eight teams get in the postseason tournament. Nebraska Wesleyan and Doane (both 5-11 GPAC) are still in the hunt for a bid.

"We need to win games," Tigers coach Shane Murphy said about how his team can stay in the hunt for the conference tournament. "For us, that's a matter of starting on the defensive end, rebounding and getting that to feed into some good offense for us."

Dakota Wesleyan had that early in the game on Wednesday, jumping out to an 11-0 advantage to start the contest.

"Our guys came out and shot the ball well," Murphy said. "We played some good ball defensively to start the game, but it's something that we have to sustain."

Morningside scored the next seven points to narrow the lead down to four. The rest of the first half went back and forth with both teams shooting 50 percent from the field. The Mustangs went into halftime leading Dakota Wesleyan 38-35.

Morningside coach Jim Sykes credits the first half lead to the difference at the free-throw line.

"We got to the free-throw line in the first half," Sykes said. "That was pretty much the difference in the first half."

The Mustangs shot 12-of-15 from the line in the first half, while the Tigers only had five free-throw attempts, hitting three.

"We just couldn't make enough plays offensively," Murphy said. "Twenty-six turnovers really hurt us. Morningside puts a lot of pressure, but we had a lot of self-induced pain on the offensive end when it came to decision making."

Morningside got a few key plays from Storm Throne off the bench. Throne surprised some people when the 6-foot-7 center hit two 3-pointers as Morningside was still crawling back from its early deficit.

"Storm plays with a lot of passion," Sykes said. "He's able to hit those 3-point shots. Then he followed it up with two dunks."

Throne admitted that the two dunks in the second half were the first of his career. Bryan Borchers added another dunk for Morningside late in the game, and the Tigers went down 20 points and seemed all but out of the game.

The Tigers leading scorers for the night were Mike Lee and Jake Kneeland, who both finished with 11 points. Jalen Voss led the team in rebounding with six, while Kris Wilson and Jordan Long each had three assists.

Morningside had four scorers in double-digits as Danny Rudeen led all scorers with 21 points. Kevin Zoz finished with 20 points, while Throne and Bryan Borchers each had 14. Borchers led all players in rebounding with nine.

The Tigers will look to bounce back as they travel to Midland (14-10, 9-7 GPAC) on Saturday before they come back home to take on No. 5 Dordt (22-3, 13-3 GPAC) on Wednesday at the Corn Palace.



MC (14-11, 9-7 GPAC)

Danny Rudeen 6-10 8-8 21, Bryan Borchers 5-6 4-4 14, Trent Miller 3-5 1-3 7, Kevin Zoz 5-11 6-7 20, Garth Hamilton 2-6 1-3 5, Storm Throne 6-8 0-0 14, Tanner Fergusen 0-3 0-0 0, Tanner Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Joel Haveman 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 27-50 20-25 81.

DWU (14-10, 6-9 GPAC)

Justin Nelson 2-5 0-0 5, Kris Wilson 1-2 0-0 2, Bo LaCroix 3-5 0-0 8, Jalen Voss 4-10 1-2 9, Jordan Long 1-2 0-0 2, Carde Penningston 2-7 3-4 7, Mike Lee 3-9 3-4 11, Luke Bamberg 2-4 0-1 4, Jake Kneeland 5-8 0-0 11. Totals: 23-52 7-11 59.

Halftime: MC 38-35. 3-Point goals: DWU 6-15 (Pennington 3, Lee 3, Voss), MC 7 (Zoz 4, Throne 2, Rudeen). Rebounds: DWU 31 (Voss 6), MC 28 (Borchers 9). Total Fouls: DWU 20, MC 14. Turnovers: DWU 26, MC 17. Fouled out: Long (DWU). Technical Fouls: None