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Tiger men eliminated by Northwestern in GPAC semifinals

ORANGE CITY, Iowa -- The Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball team won't play for a conference tourney title, but its national tourney hopes are still alive.

Dakota Wesleyan's Jason Spicer (40) goes to the basket in front of Concordia's Jake Hornick (30) during a game in the first round of the Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament on Wednesday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Dakota Wesleyan's Jason Spicer (40) goes to the basket in front of Concordia's Jake Hornick (30) during a game in the first round of the Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament on Wednesday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)

ORANGE CITY, Iowa -- The Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball team won’t play for a conference tourney title, but its national tourney hopes are still alive.

The No. 14 Tigers lost to No. 19 Northwestern College 84-65 in the semifinals of the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament. Northwestern College (25-6) will play at Briar Cliff in the GPAC title game on Tuesday. DWU (23-9) will await its NAIA national tourney fate during the selection show on Wednesday.

DWU coach Matt Wilber feels confident the team will play in the national tournament.

“I would guess we are going to be an at-large team,” he said, “but until you see it, you don’t know.”

The Tigers trailed the entire game against the Red Raiders, but kept making runs throughout the contest. However, DWU could not muster one final spurt as Northwestern closed on a 16-3 flurry to secure the win.

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“It was just like that all day,” Wilber said. “We got close and we couldn’t get over the hump.”

Jason Spicer led the Tigers with 29 points and nine rebounds. Trae Vandeberg added 11 points and 11 rebounds. Ty Hoglund and Tate Martin both tossed in 10 points apiece.

Colton Kooima and Derek Buysse powered the Red Raiders to the win. Kooima netted 25 points, while Buysse buried five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points.

DWU fell behind 31-20 in the first half, but surged back to tied it at 34-34. The Tigers had a chance to take a lead, but their 3-pointer rimmed out. DWU trailed 39-34 at the break.

The Red Raiders maintained their advantage in the second half, but the Tigers hung around. DWU got within 68-62 with seven minutes remaining. The Tigers went cold down the stretch as they hit only one field goal in the final moments. Buysse’s 3-pointer made it 77-62 with three minutes left. Kooima capped off the run with a stepback 3-pointer with one minute left to reach the final margin.

“I give Northwestern a lot of credit,” Wilber said. “First, for how they guarded us and then they had guys make some shots when they needed to, to stretch it out.”

The NAIA national tournament starts March 8 in Point Lookout, Missouri. Wilber said the Tigers will take a couple days off before preparing for the national tourney.

“We are going to prepare like we are going to be in the national tournament,” Wilber said, “but regardless, we have to take some time off here and get a little bit healthier and try to get a little bit freshened up here before we go back at it hard and start preparing for whoever we are going to be playing.”

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Northwestern College 84, Dakota Wesleyan 65

 

Dakota Wesleyan (23-9): Jacob Hinker 0-0 0-0 0, Trae Vandeberg 3-11 4-5 11, Nate Davis 1-2 0-0 2, Bret Mattice 0-0 0-0 0, Kaleb Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Tate Martin 4-11 1-2 10, Collin Kramer 0-1 0-0 0, Taner DenHoed 0-1 0-0 0, Aaron Ahmadu 1-4 0-0 3, Ty Hoglund 5-14 0-1 10, Jason Spicer 12-20 5-6 29. Totals 26-65 10-14 65.

Northwestern College (25-6): Riley Francis 3-7 0-0 6, Colton Kooima 10-20 3-3 25, Matt Hillman 0-0 0-0 0, Parker Mulder 2-3 0-0 5, Tanner Hilbrands 0-0 0-0 0, Keegan Van Egdom 0-0 0-0 0, Derek Buysse 6-13 0-0 17, Nathan Wedel 5-14 0-0 11, Blake Riggen 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan Baker 4-6 2-4 10, Chris Borchers 2-7 0-0 4, Grant Rohrer 0-0 0-0 0, Justin Van Kalsbeek 2-4 2-3 6, Christian Korver 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-74 7-10 84.

Halftime: NWC 39-34. 3-point field goals: DWU 3-22 (Vandeberg 1-6, Davis 0-1, Johnson 0-1, Martin 1-5, Kramer 0-1, Ahmadu 1-3, Hoglund 0-5); NWC 9-22 (Francis 0-2, Kooima 2-5, Mulder 1-2, Buysse 5-9, Wedel 1-2, Borchers 0-2). Rebounds: DWU 35 (Vandeberg 11); NWC 47 (Baker 9). Assists: DWU 12 (Martin 4); NWC 11 (Wedel 4). Turnovers: DWU 9; NWC 9. Total fouls: DWU 12; NWC 18.

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