No. 11 Jimmies' offensive firepower keeps DWU men at bay
A bid for a season sweep against GPAC leaders Jamestown wasn't meant to be Wednesday for the DWU men
MITCHELL -- For a half on Wednesday night, it looked like Dakota Wesleyan’s men’s basketball team might give Jamestown a loss for the second time this season.
But over 40 minutes, the No. 11-ranked Jimmies’ offensive firepower couldn’t be denied at the Corn Palace in an 84-71 victory over the Tigers in Great Plains Athletic Conference action.
The Tigers were nearly in a lockstep with the Jimmies in the first half, leading by nine points at one juncture and trailing by only three at halftime. But DWU’s outside shooting cooled in the second half at a rate of 4 of 13 from 3-point range, while Jamestown hit 15 of its 26 field goals total in the final 20 minutes.
Cole Woodford had a career day for the GPAC-leading Jimmies (21-3, 13-3 GPAC), finishing with 26 points and drilling 8 of 9 3-pointers in the contest. Woodford, a junior from Redwood Falls, Minnesota, was averaging 12.1 points per game before Wednesday night and he had 15 in the first half.
“There were a lot of baskets out of Cole Woodford. And we’d like to have those back, quite honestly,” DWU coach Matt Wilber said. “You give him credit for making them all … but he goes 8-for-9 and to me, that is the game.”
Mason Walters, the 6-foot-9 forward who is on his way to being a first-team All-American for the third year in a row, was kept to only nine points in the first half. But it was what the Jimmies did with him on the bench that proved critical, as DWU led 27-21 when Walters went to the sideline with 8 minutes left in the first half.
In the meantime, Woodford went wild with 3-pointers to power a 19-5 run and give the Jimmies a 40-32 lead with under 3 minutes left. DWU used five late points in the half to whittle the UJ lead back to 40-37, but Jamestown opened the lead up to double digits in the first 4 minutes of the half and led by as many as 19 points midway through the second period.
Walters, who averages 25.9 points per game, finished with 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting. The Jimmies average 87.8 points per game and had 11 each from Marc Kjos and Reid Gastner.
“Mason is so good, so physical and so strong,” Wilber said. “It’s easy to get spread out against him and we did a good job on him as a team. We competed enough on him. But we just gave up some tough buckets to the other guys.”
Aside from 11 turnovers, there was not much to gripe about on the DWU side of the statsheet at game’s end, shooting 47.3% from the field, converting 12 of 30 3-pointers.
Diang Gatluak was the key Tiger in the first half, scoring 13 points and hitting three 3-pointers. Blaze Lubbers had nine points for DWU, as the Tigers were 8-for-17 shooting triples and 14-for-29 overall in the first 20 minutes. For the game, Gatluak finished with 19 points, including five 3-pointers. Lubbers and Jakob Dobney each had 15 points.
Koln Oppold, who had 30 points in the win in November in Jamestown, was kept to only seven points and five assists on Wednesday. The Tigers were within seven points of UJ with 1:33 remaining but could not draw closer.
"We had some turnovers in the first half that made things tougher on us,” Wilber said. “I wouldn’t say that we need to play near-perfect but you need to play really well. Bigger than that, to me, was our effort and coming back. There were some chances that we could have run out of the gym. I know it ended up being a 14-point game and shoot, we were one possession away from making it pretty interesting down the stretch.”
DWU (12-12, 8-8 GPAC) is back at home on Wednesday, Feb. 8, hosting Northwestern. Three of the final four regular-season games for the Tigers are at the Corn Palace.