MITCHELL, S.D. – After shooting 61 percent from the field in the first half, the No. 18 Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball team defeated (RV) Hastings College, 87-67 in a Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament matchup Wednesday in Mitchell.
The Broncos (20-11, 10-8 GPAC) jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the opening minutes of the contest. But, senior Jason Spicer (Sioux Falls, S.D.) notched a pair of free throws followed by a layup to bring the Tigers (22-9, 11-7 GPAC) back within a point. Nygel Drury (Madison, Wis.) knocked down a deep 3-pointer to help the Tigers regain the lead.
Neither team could pull away from the other in the ensuing four minutes of play as there were four ties and three lead changes. However, Collin Kramer (Volga, S.D.) broke that streak with a layup that began a 19-4 run over the next six minutes. With under two minutes left in the first half, Spicer found Trae Vandeberg (Madison, S.D.) cutting to the basket who flushed away a dunk, enlivening the Tiger faithful.
Hastings chipped away at the DWU lead in the opening five minutes of the second half as they cut the lead to 13 points. However, the Tigers strung together five-straight points to extend their lead back to 18 points following a Spicer 3-pointer.
Minutes later, the Broncos cut the Tiger lead to 11 points. But, just as it looked like Hastings would put together a run, Aaron Ahmadu (Houston, Texas) scored five-straight points as he nailed a three-point shot, followed by a layup on the next possession. The Tigers held a double-digit lead for the remainder of the game, on their way to a GPAC Quarterfinal victory.
Vandeberg scored 25 points to lead all scorers, as Spicer notched 21 points, six rebounds and four assists. Tyson Smiley (Omaha, Neb.) recorded a double-double as he tallied 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Ahmadu chipped in nine points and four rebounds off the bench. The Tigers shot 53 percent from the field and 41 percent from three-point range. DWU also added 41 rebounds and 46 points in the paint compared to 26 rebounds and 34 points in the paint by Hastings.
The Tigers battle No. 6 Morningside College in the GPAC Semi-Finals at 3 p.m. Saturday in Sioux City, Iowa.