DWU men cruise in opening round at national tournament


SIOUX FALLS -- Close to home Thursday, the Dakota Wesleyan men’s basketball team made winning at the NAIA national tournament look easy.

The Tigers picked up 25 points in the return of standout guard Ty Hoglund and picked up 17 points each from Trae Vandeberg and Jason Spicer in a 84-67 win in the NAIA Division II men’s basketball tournament opening round at the Sanford Pentagon.

DWU (23-10) advances to play at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Sioux Falls, taking on top-seeded College of Idaho (28-6) in the second round.

In front of about 2,000 fans — mostly clad in DWU blue — it was a combination of the Tigers’ balanced offense and a strong defensive effort that allowed DWU to advance in its fourth straight national tournament appearance. DWU held Governors State to 36 percent shooting and 3-for-13 from 3-point territory, while leaving the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference player of the year Jalen Miller with just nine points.

“I felt really good about us once the game got going and what we were doing,” DWU coach Matt Wilber said. “We were moving the ball and Jason Spicer was really good. They were giving him a ton of attention and he was still out there making some plays.”

On offense, the Tigers were efficient offensively, shooting nearly 59 percent in the first half and 52 percent for the game. Hoglund, who had missed four games with an ankle injury, scored 16 points in the first 11 minutes on the court and finished with 25 points and nine rebounds on 9-for-14 shooting.

“He played really, really well,” Wilber said. “And he looked good out there but he’s not 100 percent, so for him to have that kind of game shows what kind of player he is.”

Spicer said the Tigers focused on “controlling the chaos” of the Jaguars’ defense, one that likes to force turnovers.

“We knew we would have some chances to get shots and looks and get to the basket against them,” Spicer said. “We did a good job of executing on offense and getting good looks.”

Governors State hung around early in the second half but back-to-back Vandeberg 3-pointers stretched the lead to double-digits for good with 15:38 left. Moments later, Spicer scored six straight DWU points to lead 60-44 and Hoglund scored eight points in a five-minute span, capped with a 3-pointer with 4 minutes left to put DWU up 21 and on cruise control.  

Spicer and Vandeberg were both 6-for-11 shooting, with Spicer making it a double-double with 10 assists and six rebounds. Vandeberg had seven rebounds in the victory.

Hoglund returned to the lineup Thursday but the Tigers will likely be without one of the key players who stepped up in his absence. Tyson Smiley went down in the final minute of the first half with an ankle injury and did not return. Wilber said he’s doubtful to return for today’s contest or the rest of the tournament.

“I feel terrible for him because we wouldn’t have won this game without him and wouldn’t be in the national tournament without him,” Wilber said. “For winning a national tournament game, it wasn’t as fun in the locker room because we were feeling for him.”

NOTES: Playing for the 10th time in school history, the Tigers improved to 8-9 all-time in NAIA tournament play. … With the fifth-seeded Tigers winning over the fourth-seeded Jaguars, DWU’s win was the only upset by seed of the 15 first-round games completed late Thursday. … Great Plains Athletic Conference teams were 4-0 in the first round of the men’s tourney.

Dakota Wesleyan 84, Governors State 67

Dakota Wesleyan (23-10): Jason Spicer 6-11 5-6 17, Trae Vandeberg 6-11 1-2 17, Kellen Barden 0-0 0-0 0, Aaron Ahmadu 1-3 1-2 3, Ty Hoglund 9-14 4-5 25, Collin Kramer 3-7 0-0 6, Jacob Hinker 0-0 0-0 0, Samuel McCloud 1-2 0-0 3, Zachery Treiber 0-0 1-2 1, Tyson Smiley 3-6 2-2 8, Nygel Drury 1-4 1-3 4. Totals 30-58 15-22 84

Governors State (25-9): Jalen Miller 3-10 3-4 9, Jalen McGruder 0-2 0-0 0, Jamaal Murray 2-5 0-0 4, Justin Siorek 2-6 0-0 5, Robbie Brooks 6-14 2-3 14, Quincy Dillard 0-0 0-0 0, David Anderson 4-13 2-2 10, Shane Maple 5-13 1-1 11, Sterling Fields 1-2 0-0 3, Travis McBride 4-10 2-2 11, Willie Lipsey III 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 27-75 10-14 67

Halftime: DWU 46, GSU 35. Field goal pct: DWU .517, GSU .360. 3-pt field goals: DWU 9-23 (Vandeberg 4-7, Ahmadu 0-2, Hoglund 3-4, Kramer 0-4, McCloud 1-2, Smiley 0-1, Drury 1-3), GSU 3-13 (Miller 0-2, McGruder 0-1, Siorek 1-3, Maple 0-2, Fields 1-2, McBride 1-3). Rebounds: DWU 43 (Hoglund 9, Kramer 9), GSU 37 (Brooks 8, Anderson 8). Fouls DWU 12, GSU 20. Fouled out: Miller. Technicals: none. Assists: DWU 21 (Spicer 10), GSU 6 (Maple 2, McBride 2). Steals: DWU 3 (Spicer 1, Hoglund 1, Kramer 1), GSU 6 (Anderson 2). Blocked shots: DWU 3 (Spicer 2), GSU 6 (Miller 3, Anderson 3). Turnovers: DWU 14, GSU 6.