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Dakota Wesleyan men's basketball erases halftime deficit to top Briar Cliff in overtime

Kallan Herman came out of the halftime break firing, pouring in 14 points in the first 9:21 of the second half, as the Tigers hit nine of their first 16 shots and started 4-for-8 from 3-point range.

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Dakota Wesleyan's Kallan Herman drives to the basket as Briar Cliff's Nick Hoyt defends him during an NAIA men's basketball game on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, at the Corn Palace.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL — There wasn’t much yelling in the Dakota Wesleyan men’s basketball locker room at halftime, according to head coach Matt Wilber.

Instead, there was an honest discussion about a rough first half the team had against Briar Cliff.

Whatever the conversation was, it worked, as the Tigers rallied back from a halftime deficit to take down the Chargers 78-76 in overtime on Thursday night at the Corn Palace.

The game almost didn’t see overtime, though, with the Tigers needing a last-second basket in regulation to force the extra period. So Wilber drew up a play to give Alan Kikwaki — the team’s best passer out of the post — a chance to pass the ball.

After coming off a Kikwaki screen, Jakob Dobney faked out toward halfcourt and cut back to the basket, and though Kikwaki had the ball out beyond the 3-point line as opposed to the high post, he hit a streaking Dobney who laid the ball in with nine-tenths of a second to go and tie the game.

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“We really executed it well, and it was one of those where (you say), ‘Hey, you got to throw it to daylight. He doesn't have to be open; Throw it. It's his job to go beat his guy and get it,’” Wilber said postgame about the play. “Dobney made a great play on the catch — Alan put it right where he needed to — and then Dobney made a great play on the catch to finish it.”

The Tigers got the game to overtime and then used an all-around scoring effort, led by four points from Koln Oppold, to edge the Chargers. Though, a turnover on an inbound pass with two seconds left gave Briar Cliff a chance to tie it, but the Chargers missed a layup as time expired.

The turnaround for the Tigers came after they found themselves down by six at half. DWU shot 7-for-24 (29.2%) from the field in the first half and had 10 first-half turnovers, which led to a 30-24 deficit.

“I thought Briar Cliff really really disrupted us on both ends. I thought we were uncomfortable and I thought they were,” Wilber said of the first half. “(I told the team), ‘Guys, we kind of got bullied around. If that's going to happen again, plan on getting beat in the second half, too.’ I’m really fortunate to have a team that’s pretty responsive and understanding … they’re easy to coach because of that.”

Kallan Herman came out of the halftime break firing, pouring in 14 points in the first 9:21 of the second half, as the Tigers hit nine of their first 16 shots and started 4-for-8 from 3-point range, too.

“He was really good in a stretch there,” Wilber said of Herman. “He had a really consistent game for us, but he banged a lot of shots for us and kept us where we needed to be within striking distance.”

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Herman finished the game with a game-high 23 points, 17 of which came in the second half and overtime. Oppold and Dobney each added 12, while D’Andre Dennis and Diang Gatluak both contributed 10. Gatluak also had 15 rebounds.

For Briar Cliff, Kyle Boerhave had 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while Conner Groves added 18 points, Quinn Vesey chipped in 16 and Jaden Kleinhesselink had 10.

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DWU (8-7, 4-3 Great Plains Athletic Conference) hits the road for its 13th game away from home in its first 16 games on Saturday, Jan. 7, when the Tigers take on Concordia before coming back to Mitchell for two games.

“We got a tough one,” Wilber said of the upcoming game. “(They’re) going to have a team that's ready to go. You get beat by 25 like they just did, you're going to have a pretty energized basketball team.”

Zech Lambert is a sports reporter for the Mitchell Republic. He graduated from Penn State University in May 2022 and began at the Mitchell Republic in July 2022. He can be reached at zlambert@mitchellrepublic.com or on Twitter @Zech_Lambert.
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