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Tigers trounce Red Raiders

Tyson Smiley didn't know he was starting until two hours before tip-off, but he went out and had a career night for the Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball team.

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Dakota Wesleyan's Tyson Smiley (11) goes to the basket past a pair of Northwestern defenders during a Great Plains Athletic Conference game on Wednesday night at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Tyson Smiley didn't know he was starting until two hours before tip-off, but he went out and had a career night for the Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball team.

DWU's dynamic guard Ty Hoglund sat out the game with a foot injury and Smiley was inserted into the starting lineup for the first time since Nov. 15.

"I am just here to play my role and fill in where I can and when Ty is out, it just opens up an extra opportunity for me and I do everything I can to help the team," Smiley said.

The sophomore guard responded with a career-high 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to spark an 85-69 win over Northwestern College at a rocking Corn Palace on Wednesday.

"We didn't make the decision on Ty until 6 p.m.," DWU coach Matt Wilber said. "I told Tyson before the game he was going to start and God he played a great game. He played a big boy game."

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It was also a big win for the No. 17 Tigers, who held the high-scoring No. 10 Red Raiders to 23 points below their season average. DWU improves to 20-9 overall and 10-7 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference.

"We were in a must-win situation and right now I am so proud of our guys," Wilber added. "I am just so proud of them for what they did and how they competed. We held this team to 69 points in our gym and that's just a big boy defensive effort."

Trae Vandeberg added 25 points, while Jason Spicer had 16 points and eight assists. Northwestern's senior duo of Colton Kooima and Nathan Wedel powered the Red Raiders with 18 points apiece.

The Tigers led from start to finish, but had to withstand numerous second-half surges by the Red Raiders (22-5, 12-5 GPAC).

Wedel converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to cut the deficit to 64-60 with 7:07 left.

"When we got it to 64-60, I thought 'OK here we go,' " Northwestern coach Kris Korver said. "But from that point on, I think they made a couple of shots right away and took the wind out of our sails."

Smiley and Vandeberg did most of the damage late as they combined for 19 of the final 21 points. Smiley put an exclamation point on the night with a driving layup to put DWU ahead 83-67 with 1:46 left as the Tiger student section erupted on the made basket.

"That's honestly the reason most guys come here is to get that feeling and hear this crowd and the place just shaking," Smiley said. "It's just awesome."

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Collin Kramer added 11 points. Nygel Drury scored nine points and three blocked shots, while also defending Kooima for most of the game. Kooima left the game in the second half with an ankle injury, he later finished the contest. He finished 6-for-16 from the field and made one 3-pointer.

"I thought Nygel Drury did a good job on him," Wilber said. "Kooima is an amazing player and Wedel is too. You are talking about two player of the year candidates on the same team. Then they have other guys that are really good and you saw that out of that team. That team is a straight up national tournament team and deadly with who they've got."

The Tigers will now play at Concordia University on Saturday in their regular season finale. Wilber said Hoglund's status for Saturday is doubtful.

"It's bad," Wilber said. "I hope it's not the end of the road for him. He's been playing on it for a month. He's been a hurt for a month. He doesn't practice and then goes out there and just gives us a warrior effort walking on pins and needles. I can't say enough about him. It was tough talking to him tonight. We just had guys that stepped up."

Dakota Wesleyan University 85, Northwestern College 69

Northwestern College (22-5, 12-5): Riley Francis 2-7 2-2 6, Colton Kooima 6-16 5-6 18, Parker Mulder 2-3 1-2 5, Nathan Wedel 8-16 2-2 18, Spencer Pauley 0-0 0-0 0, Trent Hilbrands 1-3 0-0 2, Derek Buysee 4-9 0-0 11, Steven Kragt 1-3 0-0 2, Chris Borchers 2-3 2-2 7, Christian Korver 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-61 12-14 69.

Dakota Wesleyan (20-9, 10-7): Trae Vandeberg 9-17 5-6 25, Nygel Drury 4-10 0-2 9, Tyson Smiley 10-19 2-5 24, Collin Kramer 3-9 2-2 11, Jason Spicer 6-10 4-5 16, Aaron Ahmadu 0-1 0-0 0, Samuel McCloud 0-2 0-0 0, Kellen Barden 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 32-68 13-20 85.

Halftime: DWU 42-32. 3-point field goals: NC 5-20 (Francis 0-4, Kooima 1-3, Wedel 0-4, Hilbrands 0-1, Buysee 3-6, Borchers 1-1, Korver 0-1); DWU 8-27 (Vandeberg 2-3, Drury 1-6, Smiley 2-8, Kramer 3-7, Spicer 0-1, McCloud 0-2). Rebounds: NC 32 (Francis 8); DWU 34 (Smiley 12). Assists: NC 10 (Kooima 3, Mulder 3); DWU 12 (Spicer 8). Steals: NC 2 (Francis 1, Korver 1); DWU 7 (Vandeberg 4). Blocked shots: NC 0; DWU 8 (Drury 3). Turnovers: NC 9; DWU 6. Total fouls: NC 18; DWU12. A: 3,198.

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