Morningside delivers rare home blowout loss to Dakota Wesleyan men
The loss was DWU's fourth in a row and the fifth in the last six games
MITCHELL — The outcome of Dakota Wesleyan’s men’s basketball game on Wednesday night was not something witnessed very often at the Corn Palace in the tenure of coach Matt Wilber.
Not for a team that has won nearly 80% of its home games in that time entering this season and usually enjoys a healthy home-court advantage.
But for just the second time in the last 10 years, DWU lost a home game by 20 points or more, as 25th-ranked Morningside controlled the action from the opening tip in an 83-61 Mustang win in Great Plains Athletic Conference play. The last time DWU lost by 20 points or more at home was an 86-57 outcome against Bellevue (Neb.) on Nov. 8, 2013, which was Wilber’s first season as Tigers’ coach.
It was all Mustangs because DWU was never in the game from the start, Wilber said.
“That’s 100% on me, because we weren’t ready to play and that just should not happen, especially at home,” he said. “That’s just not something that we do around here. It shouldn’t happen but it happened.”
Morningside led 16-4 and later 31-9 after DWU went scoreless for 6 1/2 minutes and the Mustangs put together a 15-0 run. In the first 8 minutes of the game, DWU (12-15, 8-11 GPAC) used three timeouts, trying to light a fire to get in the game, but Morningside led by as many as 24 points in building a 40-20 halftime lead. The Tigers shot 24.2% from the field and were 2-for-18 on 3-pointers over the course of the first 20 minutes on offense.
The Mustangs, who entered the game 17th in the country in field goal percentage at 49.6, shot near that clip with a 48.4% shooting effort. The Mustangs had a 44-24 edge with points in the paint. Ely Dobel finished the game with 22 points and seven rebounds, while Trey Powers had 21 points for the Mustangs (20-6, 14-5 GPAC), who have now won four games in a row, including a 27-point win over Jamestown on Feb. 10.
The Tigers salvaged some offense in the second half, shooting 51.6% from the field and converting 8-of-20 3-pointers in the final 20 minutes, finishing 10 for 38 overall from distance. DWU was kept to only seven free-throw attempts in the game, converting three.
One of the bright spots for DWU was Howard product Samuel Aslesen, who scored 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting in 26 minutes off the bench. Jakob Dobney and Kallan Herman each had eight points for DWU.
“Your eyes are on the present and you’re looking forward to what you’re doing as a program,” Wilber said. “We’ve got young guys and sophomores playing. Sam Aslesen has had his minutes up and down for a number of reasons but he continues to play and do some good things out there. I would say that’s good to see. For our program to be good going forward, Sam’s going to need to be part of it.”
Entering Wednesday night, the game served as a potential preview of a Great Plains Athletic Conference quarterfinal game in seven days’ time, with the Mustangs in the No. 3 slot in the standings and DWU in the No. 6 position. With Morningside winning and Dordt losing to Northwestern on Wednesday, the Mustangs are now No. 2, with the Defenders and Red Raiders tied for the 3-spot, with No. 1 Jamestown leading the pack. DWU is tied with Doane for the No. 6 seed with 8-11 GPAC records, but the blue-clad Tigers have the tiebreaker on Doane after sweeping the season series.
DWU has lost four games in a row and five of their last six contests. The Tigers will play Concordia, the No. 5 team in the conference, in Saturday’s regular-season finale at 3:45 p.m. at the Corn Palace. The GPAC playoffs start on Wednesday, Feb. 22, with DWU assured of a road game.
“It’s just tough that this is what we’re in and what we’re in the middle of,” Wilber said. “If I could pinpoint a reason for why everything has happened this season, we wouldn’t be in this position, you know? Sometimes we’re searching and we think we find something, but what we’ve needed to do this year to win games consistently, that just hasn’t happened. We’re in the midst of playing a lot of really good teams, and the margin of error for winning and losing is small anyway. It’s going to be tough when you’re not ready to play.”