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Dakota Wesleyan’s defense carries the Tigers past Mount Marty for the second time this season

Mount Marty went 15-of-49 from the field as the Tigers improved to 5-6 in GPAC play.

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Dakota Wesleyan University's Teegan Evers (2) puts down a dunk during a Great Plains Athletic Conference game against Mount Marty on Sunday, January 16, 2022 at the Corn Palace.
Matt Gade/Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL – The message from DWU head coach Matt Wilber to his players in the midst of the Tigers scoring their least amount of points in a win all season was, “Keep going, stay tough, stay together and just keep playing.”

The Tigers struggled in the first half shooting 28 percent from the field and 23 percent from 3-point range. Dakota Wesleyan was not alone in season-low performances as Mount Marty shot its season worst from 3-point range going 2-for-21 and had its second-worst field goal percentage of the season at 31.

DWU vastly improved in the second half going 13-for-25 from the field to beat Great Plains Athletic Conference opponent Mount Marty 53-40.

“It was just a bad, tough and frustrating night offensively for both teams,” Wilber said. “It’s hard not to be frustrated, but we played a lot better in the second half. … I give our defense a lot of credit, especially the way we guarded the actions that we saw. The baskets Mount Marty did get were tough, I thought only a handful were easy ones and that was the difference in the game.”

Both teams struggled offensively to start as Mount Marty had a 6-4 lead 10 minutes into the game. Dakota Wesleyan started the game 2-of-16 from the field and only scored 10 of its 32 paint points in the first half. The defense by Mount Marty’s two 6-foot-6 forwards Jonah Larson and Tyrell Harper, gave the Tigers issues around the rim.

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As for the Tigers, their defense was just as impressive. They held the Lancers to just 7-for-20 shooting through the first 20 minutes, and forced Mount Marty to commit six turnovers and shoot 0-of-6 from 3-point range.

“We just couldn’t make a shot and even all our three’s were open looks,” Wilber said. “I tried to tell our guys don’t look at the scoreboard, but it was glaring. The weight of that can be much, but I'm glad that we won through it because I believe we can win games like this. We’re a team that has to grind on offense and our defense can hold serve while we go through it.”

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Dakota Wesleyan University's Nick Wittler (4) shoots over a Mount Marty defender during a Great Plains Athletic Conference game on Sunday, January 16, 2022 at the Corn Palace.
Matt Gade/Mitchell Republic

DWU’s offense came alive in the second half as the Tigers scored 20 points in the first 12 minutes, including a Teegan Evers 24-foot 3-pointer that ignited the crowd and put the Tigers up eight. After back-to-back layups by Jeffrey Schuch and a floater by Sawyer Schultz, Dakota Wesleyan extended its lead to 12 and managed to win its fifth GPAC game of the season.

Evers finished with 16 points on 7-for-14 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds. Schuch had 11 points and eight rebounds while Koln Oppold had eight points and snatched a game-high 11 rebounds. Mason Larson added seven points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Mount Marty’s Harper had a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds while Elijah Pappas led the Lancers in points and assists with 12 and three. Nick Coleman added 10 points off the bench and shot perfect from the field and the free throw line.

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The Tigers bench celebrates a basket during a Great Plains Athletic Conference game against Mount Marty on Sunday, January 16, 2022 at the Corn Palace.
Matt Gade/Mitchell Republic

DWU has now improved its record to 8-10 this season and are one of the five GPAC teams on a current two-game winning streak or better. Looking ahead, Wilber said the team showed the fight that needs to continue in every game in order end the season how they ultimately want to.

“Everything is still in play for us and I credit our guys because our season was on the line for where we want to be,” Wilber said. “If we had come out in the second half and gotten beat, we'd be in a deep hole looking up in the conference standings. We didn't need to talk about it with our guys but they knew what was at stake. It’s not where we want to be, but we’ve shown we can be a tough and together team. Regardless of the offense, we played with passion and energy that’s necessary to win.”

The Tigers travel to Nebraska to face two GPAC opponents in consecutive days. DWU plays Hastings at 6:45 p.m. on Jan. 21 and plays Doane at 3:45 p.m. on Jan. 22.

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Dakota Wesleyan (8-10): Teegan Evers 7-14 1-1 16, Jeffrey Schuch 5-14 0-1 11, Koln Oppold 3-8 2-2 8, Mason Larson 2-5 2-2 7, Nick Wittler 3-12 0-0 6, Sawyer Schultz 2-4 0-0 5. Totals 22-57 5-6 53.

Mount Marty (5-16): Elijah Pappas 5-15 2-2 12, Tyrell Harper 4-15 1-3 10, Nick Coleman 3-3 4-4 10, Kade Stearns 1-6 0-0 3, Jonah Larson 1-5 0-0 2, Allen Wilson 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 15-49 8-11 40.

Halftime: Dakota Wesleyan 21-19. 3-point field goals: DWU 3-13 (Schultz 1-2, Schuch 1-2, Larson 1-2, Wittler 0-2, Evers 0-2, Oppold 0-3); MM 0-6 (Harper 0-1, Larson 0-1, Pappas 0-2, Stearns 0-2). Rebounds: DWU 20 (Oppold 6); MM 15 (Harper 6). Assists: DWU 5 (Oppold 2); MM 3 (Stearns 2). Steals: DWU 3 (Oppold 2); MM 1 (Stearns 1). Blocked shots: DWU 1 (Schuch 1); MM 0. Turnovers: DWU 2; MM 6. Total fouls: DWU 5; MM 2.

Branden is a sports reporter that graduated from Purdue University Northwest with a bachelor's degree in communications and a focus in journalism. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 and covers prep and collegiate athletics. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Full-Court Press, providing a weekly web-exclusive look at high school basketball throughout all of South Dakota. Branden can be reached at bhull@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @bhullreports.
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