Tiger men fall to Nebraska Wesleyan

Aireus Stephenson from DWU.

Aireus Stephenson

Jalen Voss from DWU.

Jalen Voss

LINCOLN, Neb. – A cold-shooting first half doomed the Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball team Saturday afternoon in a 63-48 loss to Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Neb.

The Tigers (13-15, 8-10 Great Plains Athletic Conference) shot 25 percent and scored just 18 first-half points against the Prairie Wolves. Dakota Wesleyan shot nearly 50 percent in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to overcome an 11-point halftime deficit.

The loss leaves DWU at eighth in the GPAC with two regular-season games left to play. The Tigers’ 8-10 conference mark leaves them just above NWU, which is in ninth with a 7-12 GPAC record. Morningside College is in seventh with a 9-9 conference mark. This week, the Tigers host No. 5 Northwestern College, which leads the conference with a 15-3 record, and Briar Cliff, which is tied for fifth with a 10-8 mark.

Saturday, the Tigers hung with Nebraska Wesleyan to start. DWU scored the first basket of the game, and was able to grab a slim leave on several occasions, including a 10-9 lead with 13:52 left in the half on a 3-pointer by Bo LaCroix. After that, however, DWU didn’t score again until Carde Pennington hit a pair of free throws to make it a 15-12 game with 7:38 to play. Dakota Wesleyan, however, scored just six more points in the first half and the Prairie Wolves led 29-18 at halftime.

The Tigers cut into the gap to start the second half, but Nebraska Wesleyan pushed its lead back to 10, 32-22, on a three by Eric Jackson with 19:14 left to play. A three by Jonah Bradley made it a 13-point game, but DWU responded with a 15-5 run that included a three by Pennington and six points by Aireus Stephenson to make it a three-point game, 44-41, with 11:10 left.

In the next six minutes, Nebraska Wesleyan went on a 15-3 run to push its lead to 15, 59-44, with 5:24 left to play. The Prairie Wolves were able to maintain that lead for the rest of the game.

Jalen Voss finished with a game-high 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Tigers, who shot 35.8 percent from the field. Stephenson added 12 points. Dakota Wesleyan hit just two 3-pointers and went 8-for-10 from the line. The Tigers had 37 rebounds and 15 turnovers.

Eric Jackson led NWU (12-12, 7-12) with 16 points and six rebounds. Bradley added 13 points and six rebounds and Trey Bardsley finished with 11 points. The Prairie Wolves shot 40.4 percent from the field, hit eight 3-pointers and went 9-for-16 from the line. They had 37 rebounds and 10 turnovers.

DWU is back at home Wednesday, Feb. 13, when it hosts Northwestern at 8 p.m. Wednesday is a blackout, and fans are asked to wear all black to help support the Tigers.