Rivalry clash: Tigers, Lancers set for GPAC matchup
This Dakota Wesleyan University and Mount Marty College matchup feels a little different.
The Great Plains Athletic Conference rivals meet twice a season, with DWU owning the series in recent history as it hasn’t lost to the Lancers since the 2012-13 season.
But these Lancers already have their most wins since the 2011-12 season and are receiving votes in the latest NAIA Division II poll.
“Mount Marty has always been a rival game for Dakota Wesleyan,” DWU coach Matt Wilber said. “They are getting votes. They feel like a top-20 team and maybe better.”
The Tigers will face the Lancers at 8 p.m. tonight at the Corn Palace. Mount Marty (10-2, 3-1 GPAC) ranks top-10 nationally in seven different statistical categories this season, including No. 2 in 3-pointers made (167) and No. 3 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.814).
“They are playing a tremendous style,” Wilber said. “They are really hard to guard. They are well coached and coach (Todd) Lorensen has brought in a handful of players with him that are big-time players in our league and they are playing at a high level.”
The contest will feature two of the top-four scorers in the GPAC in DWU’s Ty Hoglund and Mount Marty’s Chris King. Hoglund, the GPAC’s leading scorer, is averaging 25.1 points per game. King (20.3) is the No. 4 leading scorer in the league.
“He’s a really good player and we have a really good defender on our team in Nick Harden and somebody who is hungry to play against a guy who is similar to him,” DWU guard Tyson Smiley said. “I think that will be a matchup to watch the whole night.”
The Tigers (8-0, 4-0 GPAC) are coming off a pair of quality wins at the University St. Francis Thanksgiving Classic last weekend. Dakota Wesleyan (8-0, 4-0 GPAC) defeated Lincoln College (74-70) and St. Francis (80-71) to stay undefeated.
Wilber said both teams presented different challenges not conducive to the GPAC and he praised the Tigers for pulling out the victories.
“Against Lincoln we made stops down the stretch right when we needed them when that was a tough defensive game for us and we had guys make plays down the stretch,” Wilber said. “We had a veteran team that just seems to hold their composure pretty well.”
That’s helped the Tigers earn some hard-fought games this season, which has picked up conference victories over three teams either ranked or receiving votes at the time.
“I think we are tough and resilient,” Smiley said. “I think at the end of games we are very controlled. I think we know exactly what we are trying to do.”