ORANGE CITY, Iowa – The Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball team ended its season with a 77-63 loss to Northwestern College Wednesday night in a Great Plains Athletic Conference quarterfinal game in Orange City, Iowa.
Wednesday marked the third loss to the Red Raiders for Dakota Wesleyan this season, but the first loss by more than three points. The Tigers lost 77-74 to Northwestern in Orange City in January and lost by three again, 86-83, Feb. 13 at the Corn Palace.
The Tigers end their season with a 14-17 overall mark. Dakota Wesleyan beat four teams ranked or mentioned in the NAIA Top 25 Coaches’ Poll, including two wins against Doane College, which was ranked in the top 12 in the NAIA both times.
Dakota Wesleyan took an early lead Wednesday night, but after Bo LaCroix hit a three to put DWU up 12-10 with 11:57 left in the first half, the Red Raiders went on a 19-5 run to go up 29-17 with 4:04 remaining in the half. The Tigers cut the gap to seven on layups by Aireus Stephenson and Jalen Voss, but Zack Leeper hit a three to put Northwestern up 37-27 at halftime
The Red Raiders pushed their lead to 17, 44-27, early in the second half, and they were able to maintain a double-digit lead throughout the half. Dakota Wesleyan made it a 10-point game, 61-51, on a three by Mike Lee with 7:04 remaining, and again on a pair of free throws by Lee to make it 67-57, and from there Northwestern went on a 9-0 run to go up 19 with less than a minute to play.
Stephenson finished with 17 points to pace Dakota Wesleyan, which shot 38.8 percent from the field. Lee added 16 points and Jalen Voss finished with nine rebounds. The Tigers went 6-for-10 from the line and had 31 rebounds and 15 turnovers.
Daniel Van Kalsbeek led all scorers with 18 points for Northwestern, which is now 24-5 and hosts Morningside College Saturday in a conference semifinal game. Leper finished with 15 points, Ben Miller had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Bryce Moss finished with 10 points. The Red Raiders shot 46.7 percent from the field, went 17-for-26 from the line and had 48 rebounds and 19 turnovers.
Dakota Wesleyan loses seven seniors to graduation in May, including Stephenson, Lee, LaCroix and Carde Pennington. Paul Burgess, Trent Wookey and Jamar Reese also graduate.