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Strong first half lifts DWU men to second-straight home conference win

DWU nearly doubled up on Doane in the opening 20 minutes on Saturday as it cruised to a home win.

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Dakota Wesleyan guard Koln Oppold gathers to shoot a jump shot over Doane's Alec Oberhauser during the first half of a Great Plains Athletic Conference contest on Dec. 4, 2021, at the Corn Palace. (Landon Dierks / Republic)

The Dakota Wesleyan men’s basketball team was hitting early and often in the second of back-to-back home contests.

Led by 10 early points from sophomore guard Nick Wittler, DWU surged to a 26-10 lead in the opening 10 minutes and never looked back, cruising past Great Plains Athletic Conference foe Doane, 81-56, on Saturday afternoon at the Corn Palace.

Friday night, DWU (6-6, 3-2 GPAC) notched a home conference win over Hastings, while Doane (8-5, 3-3 GPAC) knocked off 10th-ranked Jamestown on the road. But in Saturday’s matchup, it was the Tigers who showed no signs of a hangover from the night before.

“On back-to-back nights, you just don’t know how things are going to go,“ said coach Matt Wilber. “Doane’s a really good basketball team, but (coming off of an upset of Jamestown) this was probably a little bit of a letdown for them. I don’t think we got the best version of Doane, but we played really well coupled with that.”

Leading 39-20 at halftime, DWU didn’t let up on either end, continuing to expand the lead and never letting Doane threaten in the final 20 minutes.

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“You really couldn’t [ask for a much better first half],” Wilber said.

Four DWU players — Koln Oppold (18 points), Wittler (16), Mason Larson (15) and Jeffery Schuch (12) — reached double figures in the win. Larson added six rebounds and three assists, while Schuch also had five rebounds and seven assists.

DWU shot 58.5% from the field and made a season-high 13 3-pointers less than 24 hours after connecting on 12 from long range against Hastings.

Doane was paced by 11 points from Josiah Gardiner, and Alec Oberhauser chipped in 10 points, six rebounds and three assists.

DWU is in action next at Dordt on Dec. 11.

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at ldierks@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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