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Dakota Wesleyan University eliminates Concordia, hosts Mount Marty in GPAC semifinals

Tigers improve to 19-7, will host Lancers on Saturday

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Dakota Wesleyan University's Jeffrey Schuch (13) goes up for a basket as Concordia University's Klay Uher defends during a game in the first round of the Great Plains Athletic Conference on Wednesday at the Corn Palace.

Dakota Wesleyan University defended home court and it will get another chance to do it again Saturday.

The DWU men’s basketball team held Concordia to a season-low 58 points and advanced to the GPAC semifinals with a 70-58 win on Wednesday at the Corn Palace. The Tigers will host Mount Marty at 3 p.m. Saturday in the conference semifinals.

On Wednesday, the Tigers (19-7) limited Concordia (17-9) to 24 points below its season average and won the rebounding battle, 37-28.

“We were exceptional defensively tonight and that’s not something you are going to expect every night,” said DWU coach Matt Wilber.

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Offensively, Nick Harden orchestrated the attack with 19 points, five rebounds and four assists. Koln Oppold added 14 points and eight rebounds. Jeffrey Schuch posted his first double-double with 11 points and 12 boards.

“Nick Harden and Jeff Schuch combined for nine offensive rebounds,” Wilber said. “That’s probably not a stat you are probably going to say a lot. But Nick had some very opportunistic offensive rebounds and putbacks and then Jeff was really active.”

The Tigers, who collected 26 defensive rebounds, were content on walking the ball up the court on most occasions as they dictated the pace. They finished with zero fastbreak points and scored 34 points in the paint.

“I don’t know if we were tired,” Schuch joked. “But we were taking our time and if we take 25 seconds off the shot clock and then get a bucket, that really kills a team. So that was big for us to do tonight.”

It worked and helped the Tigers stretch their lead to 24 points with 3 1/2 minutes left. Concordia, which is sixth nationally in 3-pointers made, finished 8 of 29 from the 3-point line. The Bulldogs average 10 3-pointers made per contest.

“That was really big,” Harden said about containing the 3-pointers. “That was another thing we preached on is when they go up, just close out and box out and contain. That’s what we did all night,”

Concordia’s Carter Kent and Justin Wiersema scored 13 points apiece. Sam Scarpelli and Gage Smith scored nine points each. Wiersema, Kent and Smith were all averaging in double figures.

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The Bulldogs, who averaged 95 points the last two games, finally broke 50 with 1 1/2 minutes left.

“Going into this game, that’s all we preached in a couple of practices we had up to this game,” Harden said. “It was just defense, get a stop and let the offense come to us and that’s what we did tonight.”

Mason Larson, in his second game back from a foot injury, keyed the defensive effort and finished with seven points, four rebounds and two steals. Drew Cole and Sawyer Schultz scored six points apiece. Schultz returned to action after missing the last game due to a suspension.

Up next, the Tigers will gear up for the Lancers. DWU swept the season series against Mount Marty this season.

Dakota Wesleyan 70, Concordia University 58

Concordia (17-8): Sam Scarpelli 3-8 0-0 9, Carter Kent 5-11 2-3 13, Justin Wiersema 4-11 3-3 13, Gage Smith 3-11 2-2 9, Ryan Holt 2-4 1-2 6, Jackson Hirschfield 0-1 0-0 0, Grant Wragge 2-2 0-0 4, A.J. Watson 1-2 0-0 2, Klay Uher 0-1 2-2 2, Thomas Young 0-2 0-0 0, Cory Davila 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-54 10-12 58.

Dakota Wesleyan (18-7): Koln Oppold 6-15 0-0 14, Nick Harden 7-17 4-5 19, Jeffrey Schuch 5-10 0-0 11, Mason Larson 2-3 0-0 6, Teegan Evers 1-2 0-1 3, Sawyer Schultz 2-2 0-0 6, Ace Zorr 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 28-63 5-8 70.

Halftime: DWU 35-29. 3-point field goals: CU 8-29 (Scarpelli 3-6, Kent 1-6, Wiersema 2-6, Smith 1-5, Holt 1-2, Hirschfield 0-1, Watson 0-1, Young 0-2); DWU 9-21 (Oppold 2-6, Harden 1-2, Schuch 1-1, Larson 0-6, Cole 2-3, Evers 1-1, Schultz 2-2). Rebounds: CU 28 (Holt 5); DWU 37 (Schuch 12). Assists: CU 6 (Smith 3); DWU 11 (Harden 4). Steals: CU 7 (Smith 2, Holt 2); DWU 9 (Oppold 3). Blocked shots: CU 4 (Holt 2); DWU 4 (Oppold 1, Schuch 1, Larson 1, Cole 1). Turnovers: CU 11; DWU 11. Total fouls: CU 16; DWU 13. Officials: Joe Wells, Chris Ladwig, Chris Wright. A: 634.

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