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DWU men pass first GPAC tournament test

Jade Miller knew he owed his Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball teammates a big game on Wednesday. After fouling out on a technical foul and finishing with five points in a loss to Hastings College on Saturday, the Mitchell native scored...

Dakota Wesleyan's Terrell Newton (10) drives past the defense of Concordia's Micah Kohlwey (20) during a game on Wednesday in the first round of the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. (Matt Gade/Republic)
Dakota Wesleyan's Terrell Newton (10) drives past the defense of Concordia's Micah Kohlwey (20) during a game on Wednesday in the first round of the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. (Matt Gade/Republic)

Jade Miller knew he owed his Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball teammates a big game on Wednesday.

After fouling out on a technical foul and finishing with five points in a loss to Hastings College on Saturday, the Mitchell native scored 27 points in DWU's 90-82 Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament victory over Concordia University at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.

"In that last game, I kind of embarrassed myself with how I acted," Miller said. "I really wanted to come out today and play better for the team."

With the win, the No. 3-seeded Tigers (22-9) will play No. 2 seed Nebraska Wesleyan in the GPAC Tournament semifinals on Saturday in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Miller was 9-of-19 from the floor and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line in the win, while also grabbing eight rebounds.

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"I would have been shocked if Jade didn't have a good game today, and he did," DWU head coach Matt Wilber said. "He's just been able to bounce back from that stuff. He played a great game offensively, and I'm really proud of him."

Concordia (18-12) and DWU traded baskets for the majority of the contest, as the Tigers took a 44-41 lead into the break. Wilber decided to only play a six-man rotation for the majority of the contest, adding a seventh player only when senior forward Terrell Newton got into foul trouble.

"That was the plan tonight. We weren't going to extend our bench," Wilber said. "I was going to go with those guys as long as they weren't in foul trouble. I trust our other guys, but the way we were matched up, that's what we needed to do."

For the most part, the move paid off. Trae Bergh fought through an ankle injury to play all 40 minutes while scoring 23 points and dishing out four assists. Tate Martin notched a double-double with 16 points and 10 assists, and Terrell Newton scored 13 in the win.

Bergh was 8-of-18 from the floor, and limited Concordia point guard Jamie Pearson offensively.

"He had the offense, sure, but the guy he guarded was 7-of-23 for 15 points," Wilber said. "That's what's impressive. I don't know how the player of the year is going to shake out in our league, but that reason is why (Trae) is the player of the year in our league. I don't care if a guy averages 28 or 29 points a game, Trae Bergh is the player of the year in this conference and he proved it tonight."

The Tigers outscored the Bulldogs 46-41 in the second half and shot 48.5 percent from the floor, while Concordia shot 50.7 percent. Concordia was 6-of-10 from the free-throw line, while DWU was 16-of-19. DWU had a 25-to-6 assist-to-turnover ratio and grabbed 33 rebounds.

Bergh said the Tigers fed off the 3,096 fans in attendance at the Corn Palace, and added he could tell it was a playoff atmosphere in the arena.

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"The Corn Palace crowd was awesome today," the senior said. "This was probably my last game in the Corn Palace, so it's a little bit of a sad moment, even after a win."

Pearson led the Bulldogs in scoring with 15 points, while Max Wegener and Mitch Kohlwey had 12 points each.

"They're a great team, they have a high-powered offense," Bulldogs coach Ben Limback said. "We knew coming in we'd have to defend them, but we came out flat in the second half. I wish them the best of luck moving forward."

Concordia University (18-12) 82

Jamie Pearson 7-23 1-2 15 Eli Ziegler 4-8 0-0 8 Robby Thomas 3-6 0-2 9 Micah Kohlwey 4-7 2-2 12 Chandler Folkerts 4-7 3-4 11 Rudy Knight 2-2 0-0 6 Kyle Pierce 1-2 0-0 3 Max Wegener 6-7 0-0 12 Justin Damme 3-4 0-0 6 Josh Kirkwold 0-1 0-0 0 TOTALS 34-67 6-10 82

Dakota Wesleyan (22-9) 90

Trae Bergh 8-18 5-6 23 Terrell Newton 4-5 4-5 13 Tate Martin 6-10 2-2 16 Jade Miller 9-19 4-5 27 Trae Vandeberg 1-7 0-0 2 Jason Spicer 4-7 1-1 9 Kellen Barden 0-0 0-0 0 TOTALS 32-66 16-19 90

Halftime score: DWU 44-41; 3-point goals: CU 8-23 (Thomas 3, Kohlwey 2, Knight 2, Pierce 1), DWU 10-27 (Bergh 2, Newton 1, Martin 2, Miller 5); Rebounds: CU 30 (Pearson 8), DWU 33 (Newton 9); Assists: CU 19 (Pearson 7), DWU 25 (Martin 10); Personal fouls: CU 18, DWU 9; Turnovers: CU 10, DWU 6; A - 3,096

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