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Dakota Wesleyan men make season-high 12 3-pointers in win over Hastings

Tigers shot 51 percent from the field and 40 from three in their first home game since Oct. 30.

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Dakota Wesleyan University's Nick Wittler scores a layup against Hastings College during a Great Plains Athletic Conference game on Friday, Dec. 3 at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade
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The Dakota Wesleyan men’s basketball team made a season-high 12 3-pointers to roll to a 72-56 win over Great Plains Athletic Conference opponent Hastings Friday night at the Corn Palace.

Three players made at least three 3-pointers for the Tigers, including Alan Kikwaki, who made a season-high four three pointers to finish with 14 points and five rebounds. The last time DWU (5-6, 2-2 GPAC) played at home was Oct. 30, but even in a month's long absence, the Tigers didn’t skip a beat with their winning ways at the Corn Palace. So far this season, Dakota Wesleyan is 3-0 at home and have outscored opponents 242 to 167.

“It was great to get back home,” DWU head coach Matt Wilber said. “We had a great crowd, our student section brought a lot of good energy and I thought our guys came out ready to play.”

Dakota Wesleyan started the game 3 for 3 from the field with back-to-back 3-pointers from Kikwaki and Schultz and a turnaround jump shot by Mason Larson to give DWU an early 8-2 lead. Hastings would respond with a 14 to 2 run to take the lead and hold onto it going into halftime ahead 33-31.

The Tigers came out of halftime on a 12-0 run to take a 10-point lead, which eventually led to their largest lead of the game of 18. Dakota Wesleyan shot 59 percent from the field and 42 percent from three in the second half to cruise to the 16-point victory.

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DWU leading scorer Nick Wittler scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half, including three 3-pointers. Jeffrey Schuch made 12 of his 14 points in the second half as well, along with five rebounds. Defensively, the Tigers outscored Hastings 41 to 23 in the last 20 minutes of play and held the Broncos, who shot 49 percent in the first half, to under 40 percent in the second half.

“When we hold a team to 56 points, 23 in the second half, that’s not a typical thing in the GPAC,” Wilber said. “Usually teams get their rhythm and get going but I just thought we did a great job defensively, anchored by Mason Larson. Alan Kikwaki was obviously great on both ends tonight but I thought he did a great job defensively as well.”

Larson finished with nine points and five rebounds while Koln Oppold finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Sawyer Schultz made his fifth start for Dakota Wesleyan this season, finishing with nine points on 3-of-3 shooting from 3-point range, in just 13 minutes. Schultz, who already missed the first four games of the season due to a broken left hand, suffered a sprained right ankle after inadvertently landing on a Hastings’ player foot with eight minutes left in the first half. Schultz is doubtful for Saturday’s game against Doane, but Wilber said the team is better with him on the floor and hopes is cleared to play.

“Schultz is talented,” Wilber said. “Any player who has their mind right, while being healthy and playing the right way, your talent can shine and you can see with Schultz that he can be an impactful player in a lot of different ways. … He’s just a great athlete on the court for us, but we haven’t had him a lot this year due to injuries. Now we’re dealing with that again but you hope the kid just keeps coming because we’re a better team when he’s out there.”

For Hastings, Dashawn Walker led all scorers with 21 points and Karson Gansebom finished with 12 points. Both TJ Babikir and Phil Cisrow added eight points apiece for the Broncos.

DWU hosts Doane at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4 at the Corn Palace.

Dakota Wesleyan (5-6): Nick Wittler 6-12 2-2 17, Alan Kikwaki 5-7 0-0 14, Jeffrey Schuch 7-13 0-0 14, Sawyer Schultz 3-4 0-0 9, Mason Larson 4-9 0-0 9, Koln Oppold 4-7 0-0 9, Drew Cole 0-2 0-0 0, Kallan Herman 0-2 0-0 0, Tyus Arends 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 29-57 2-2 72.

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Hastings (6-4): Dashawn Walker 9-16 2-2 21, Karson Gansebom 5-15, 1-2 12, TJ Babikir 4-11, 0-0 8, Phil Cisrow 2-3 3-4 8, Zach Rust 1-2 0-0 2, Mathias Nchekwube 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 23-52 6-8 56.

Halftime: Hasting 33-31. 3-point field goals: H 3-9 (Walker 1-1, Rust 1-1, Gansebom 1-5, Babikir 0-2); DWU 7-18 (Kikwaki 4-4, Schultz 3-3, Larson 0-4, Wittler 0-3, Oppold 0-2, Cole 0-2). Rebounds: H 15 (Babikir 5, Nchekwube 5); DWU 14 (Oppold 8, Larson 2). Assists: H 4 (Babikir 3); DWU 8 (Oppold 4). Steals: H 1; DWU 2. Blocked shots: H 1; DWU 2. Turnovers: H 3; DWU 4. Total fouls: H 4; DWU 5.

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Dakota Wesleyan University's Alan Kikwaki drives to the basket on Hastings College's Mathias Nchekwube during a Great Plains Athletic Conference game on Friday, Dec. 3 at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

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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