Defense holds firm late as Kallan Herman shoots Dakota Wesleyan men past Dordt

The Tigers limited the Defenders to 66 points — 26 below their season average — and used a 41-point second half to improve to 7-6 in GPAC play.

Dakota Wesleyan's Koln Oppold (1) drives by a Dordt defender along the baseline during a Great Plains Athletic Conference men's basketball game on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, at the Corn Palace.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — In need of a spark to sway an important home Great Plains Athletic Conference contest, defense and sophomore guard Kallan Herman delivered for the Dakota Wesleyan men’s basketball team.

The Tigers held Dordt scoreless for more than three straight minutes in the final stages, allowing a go-ahead Herman 3-pointer with 1:56 to play and another that was effectively a game-clincher with 19 seconds remaining in a 70-66 win on Wednesday night at the Corn Palace.

“I credit our guys for executing the zone (defense) we went to late. We kept them in front of us and got the stops we needed,” said DWU coach Matt Wilber. “But man, what a moment for Kallan Herman. … That’s what these guys live for. To be out there and hit two big-time shots like that in the Palace is what it’s all about.”

The seven-point edge created by Herman’s pair of 3s and a free throw from Diang Gatluak was the largest lead of the night by either team. For 39 minutes and 53 seconds, the entire game was played within a 12-point window, neither side opening up more than two possessions worth of separation.

DWU limited the Defenders, who are receiving votes in the NAIA poll and average more than 92 points per game, to identical 33-point halves.


The Tigers trailed 33-29 at halftime, but responded with a 41-point second half in which they shot 51.6% from the field and 46.7% from behind the 3-point arc.

It was a win of crucial importance at this juncture in the season for DWU. With a loss, the Tigers would have been in seventh position in the GPAC ahead of two road contests. Instead, the win brings DWU within one game of Dordt, which occupies fourth place.

“It wears me out even looking at that because every win and every loss is critical,” Wilber said. “For our guys to get it done here — and at times it was a struggle — our defense really competed, we were really physical and that was the difference.”

DWU was paced by a 21-point, 12-rebound double-double from Blaze Lubbers and 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists from Jakob Dobney. Herman finished with 14 points and a pair of steals.

Dordt (16-5, 8-5 GPAC) got 24 points, seven rebounds and two blocks from Jacob Vis, with Bryce Coppock adding 19 points, four rebounds and two assists.

DWU (11-10, 7-6 GPAC) begins its two-game road trip at Briar Cliff on Saturday.

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