Dakota Wesleyan University defended the Corn Palace in its home opener.
The No. 6 Tigers held Midland University scoreless for four minutes in the second half and their offense did the rest in an 85-65 Great Plains Athletic Conference men’s basketball victory on Saturday.
“It was the difference in the game,” DWU coach Matt Wilber said. “... Our defense was really energized and Ty Hoglund made a lot of plays in that stretch.”
The senior All-American tossed in a game-high 23 points to pace a balanced scoring attack. Tyson Smiley chipped in with 17 points, while Nick Harden scored 15. Collin Kramer and Sam McCloud rounded out the scoring from the starters with 12 points apiece.
The Tigers nailed 13 3-pointers, with McCloud accounting for four triples. Kramer and Hoglund hit three trey apiece, but all the credit went to the defense afterward.
“Offensively, we feel pretty good,” said Hoglund, who finished 8 of 14 from the field. “But if we get some stops then we could be scary and that’s kind of when we have to dig deep.”
The Tigers (4-0, 2-0 GPAC) dug deep midway through the second half. The Warriors (2-4, 0-2) went without a field goal from the 8:20-to-4:11 mark of the second half.
“We believe in our defense,” McCloud said. “We know we are a pretty good defensive team. … Defense is about scrappiness and playing hard. We just kind of turned it up a notch and it helped a lot.”
During the four-minute stretch, the Tigers turned a 69-57 advantage into a 78-57 spread on their way to victory.
“We have three really scorers in Ty, Nick and Tyson,” McCloud said. “It makes it easy for me to just stand at the 3-point line and wait for the ball. They do a great job and I trust everyone on our team to hit it when it matters.”
Midland was paced by 22 points from Laurence Merritt, who canned six 3-pointers. Ryan Williams, who was coming back from back injury, finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.
“It’s great seeing him back,” Wilber said. “To see him back playing is awesome. You love to see that, but Kramer really made it tough.”
Kramer also got the crowd going early in the first half as he knifed through the defense and threw down a dunk to ignite the crowd in the home opener.
“Crowd was awesome and it was great to back here,” Wilber said. “This was a great day for Dakota Wesleyan. Our football team ended on a great note. I got the chance to watch those guys and they looked great. The women win and we win. We had guys doing well in the wrestling world. It was a great day for Dakota Wesleyan.”
The Tigers will play at No. 16 Jamestown University on Wednesday.