SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – The Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball team made a late run Wednesday night at Dordt College, but the Defenders hit free throws down the stretch to hold on for a 79-69 win in Sioux Center, Iowa.
The Defenders – ranked No. 5 in the NAIA – led by 11, 69-58, with 4:06 to play, but Carde Pennington hit a layup to spark a 7-0 run that ended with a 3-pointer by Kris Menning to make it a four-point game, 69-65, with 2:21 left. From there, however, Dordt went 10-for-12 from the line and outscored the Tigers 10-4 in the final 1:47 of the game.
Dordt jumped to an early lead to start the game, but DWU (13-14, 8-9 Great Plains Athletic Conference) never let the Defenders get ahead by more than a few points. Dordt went up six, 16-10, with just under 12 minutes left in the first half, but a three and a layup by Bo LaCroix made it a one-point game with just over 11 minutes left in the half. Dordt pushed its lead to eight, 34-26, on a three by Cliff Warner with 4:51 left in the first half, but Danny Maman responded with a three to spark a 7-2 DWU run to end the half and cut the gap to three, 36-33.
A layup by Aireus Stephenson made it a one-point game, 36-35, to start the second half, but Dordt answered with a 10-4 run to go up seven, 46-39, with 15 minutes left to play. The Defenders made it a double-digit lead, 51-40, on a three by Austin Katje with 12:30 left, and Dordt kept its lead near 10 points until the Tigers made their late run.
Stephenson finished with a game-high 21 points for Dakota Wesleyan and Pennington added 10 points. LaCroix finished with nine points and Jalen Voss had eight points and nine rebounds. The Tigers shot 49 percent from the field, hit five 3-pointers and went 6-for-10 from the line. They had 26 rebounds and eight turnovers.
Warner and Jordan Vogel both had 17 points for Dordt and Trevor Wolterstorff finished with 14. Vogel also had 13 rebounds and Warner had six assists. The Defenders shot 46.7 percent from the field, hit seven 3-pointers and went 16-for-23 from the line. Dordt had 43 rebounds and 11 turnovers.
DWU is back on the road Saturday, Feb. 9, when it travels to Lincoln, Neb., to take on Nebraska Wesleyan University at 4 p.m.