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Heartbreak in Sioux Falls: DWU comes up short in second round

SIOUX FALLS -- In the span of 3 minutes, the Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball saw its season slip away. Leading 58-51 with 3:09 remaining, the fifth-seeded Tigers had top-seeded and No. 3-ranked College of Idaho on the ropes in the sec...

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Dakota Wesleyan's Collin Kramer (12) lays on the floor as the clock expires and the Tigers fall to College of Idaho 62-60 during a game in the second round of the NAIA Division II National Tournament on Friday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. (Matt Gade / Republic)

SIOUX FALLS -- In the span of 3 minutes, the Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball saw its season slip away.

Leading 58-51 with 3:09 remaining, the fifth-seeded Tigers had top-seeded and No. 3-ranked College of Idaho on the ropes in the second round of the NAIA Division II tournament on Friday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. But then the Coyotes took over -- mounting a furious comeback and finishing the game on 11-2 spurt to claim a hard-earned 62-60 victory.

Roosevelt Adams drilled the go-ahead 3-pointer with 16 seconds left and stunned the large, pro-DWU crowd.

“That shot was right in our guy’s face. The guy made the shot, I felt really good about it until it went through the hoop,” DWU head coach Matt Wilber said. “I’m not mad or disappointed with our guys but I feel terrible for them. They put their heart and soul into this and they were this close. It’s painful.”

The Tigers had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but Nygel Drury’s game-winning 3-pointer fell short as the Coyotes celebrated the victory. Wilber said the ball was in Ty Hoglund’s hand for the final possession and the Tigers got on open look.

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“We wanted (Jason) Spicer to dive down low and they covered that up,” Wilber said. “Nygel has made that shot all year for us. He made one earlier (in the game) and we got a clean look. That’s all you can ask for at the end of the game. It would have been an unbelievable shot and this place would have rocked and roared.”

The Tigers’ built their seven-point lead after a Hoglund sandwiched a 3-pointer in between two Spicer field goals which flipped a 51-50 deficit into a 57-51 lead. Aaron Amadu added one free throw make it 58-51 and DWU would only get two Spicer free throws in the final minute of the game.

“We couldn’t get the buckets when it mattered,” Spicer said. “It is going to hurt for a while. It was our game to lose, but they are a great team and they’ll go far in the tournament. They made the plays at the end and we didn’t.”

One of those plays was a turnover at half court after the Coyotes pulled within one point. DWU’s inbound pass was knocked away from Drury, who could have had a breakaway layup.

“One more inch,” Wilber stressed about the crucial turnover. “I have to credit College of Idaho, they made plays to win it.”

The Coyotes (29-6) advanced to the quarterfinals to take on the winner of Union (Ky.) and Indiana Tech at 8 p.m. today in Sioux Falls. The Tigers season ends at 23-11.

DWU missed its first six 3-pointers, but then sunk three shots from deep in a row. Hoglund nailed 3-pointers on consecutive trips and Trae Vandeberg followed up with another 3-pointer to pull the Tigers within two points at 21-19.

The Coyotes responded, going on a 6-1 run, but DWU was able to widdle the lead back to two points again after a Spicer floater to make the halftime score 28-26.

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Eight straight points from Spicer gave the Tigers a five-point lead at 36-31 early in the second half. Another Vandeberg 3-pointer put DWU up 50-44, but the Coyotes’ Aziz Leeks threw down a dunk and converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to cap a 7-0 run which gave College of Idaho of 51-50 lead.

Spicer finished with a game-high 28 points, while Hoglund added 13 points and Kramer had seven points.

“No one is going to epitomize of what being a student-athlete at Dakota Wesleyan University is more than Jason Spicer,” Wiber said. “I’m so proud of him. I feel so lucky to have coached him.”

Adams finished with 14 points for the Coyotes, while Nate Bruneel and Talon Pinckney each tossed in 12 points.

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