GPAC’s top-two teams collide today in Sioux City: Tigers enter with NAIA’s third-longest winning streak
DWU coming off 12-point win to extend winning streak to nine games.
One of the nation’s longest active winning streaks will be snapped today in Sioux City, Iowa.
When Dakota Wesleyan University plays at Morningside College at 8 p.m. today, it will feature two of the longest active winning streaks in NAIA men’s basketball.
The Tigers (9-1, 6-0) are the lone undefeated men’s team in Great Plains Athletic Conference play and they are on a nine-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Mustangs (10-1, 6-1) are riding an eight-game winning streak. Only Indiana Wesleyan (13) and William Penn (10) have longer active winning streaks in the NAIA.
Today’s contest also pits the two top teams in the GPAC. DWU currently is No. 1 in the GPAC standings, while Morningside is No. 2 in the conference and ranked No. 7 in the nation.
“They’re second in the GPAC,” DWU junior forward Mason Larson said. “We are first. There’s really nothing you can cake up better than that to go down there and play. They have some veteran guys that have been there and some newer guys just like we are doing. It will be fun to see what we can do.”
The Mustangs, who are coming off an 86-64 win over Concordia University, were labeled as veteran and sound on both ends of the court by DWU coach Matt Wilber.
“They just don’t beat themselves,” Wilber said. “They are very veteran. They are very good inside. They are not going to be a mess on defense. They are very good defensively. You are going to have to make shots and make plays against it.”
Morningside College is powered by 6-foot-7 senior post Trey Brown, who ranks third in the GPAC in scoring (17.5), second in field-goal percentage (63.3%) and third in rebounds (9.46 per game). He scored his 1,000th career point in Morningside College’s win over Concordia.
In recent seasons, Brown shared time at the five spot with teammate Tyler Borchers, who graduated after last season. Brown has continued to produce this season.
“We are going to have a big challenge again and we are starting to see some bigs,” Wilber said. “So what will our undersized bigs be able to get done against him?”
Senior guard Zach Imig (11.5 ppg) and sophomore guard Will Pottebaum (11.1 ppg) also score in double figures.
The Tigers are coming off a 78-66 win over Mount Marty University on Dec. 12. Larson poured in a career-high 29 points, including 23 in the first half to spur a 46-30 halftime advantage.
Larson, who added seven rebounds, finished 10 of 23 from the field and 5 of 7 from 3-point range.
“My rhythm was going and my teammates were finding me and we just kept going to that,” Larson said. “It was a big half and it definitely needed to happen.”
In the second half, it was Koln Oppold’s time to shine. DWU guard Nick Harden was limited to nine points in 27 minutes and fouled out midway through the second half.
Oppold helped pick up the offensive production and complemented Larson’s performance. The junior forward logged 12 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in a game-high 39 minutes.
“Mason and Koln overall in the game, they were just really good defensively and they were really good offensively for us in doing what we needed to do,” Wilber said. “Koln Oppold was good and he only took five shots. He was an MVP of that game from an overall standpoint.”
Notes: The first NAIA poll of the regular season will be released today.