MITCHELL, S.D. – With a minute left to play, Nick Harden (Chicago, Ill.) dished the ball to Samuel McCloud (Rapid City, S.D.) in the corner who connected on a 3-pointer, bringing the Corn Palace faithful to its' feet as the No. 18 Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball team secured the 71-65 victory over Doane University in Great Plains Athletic Conference action Saturday in Mitchell, S.D.
Doane (9-21, 5-15 GPAC) stifled the DWU offense in the early going as they jumped out to a 7-0 lead, forcing DWU to call a timeout five minutes into the game.
A pair of Ty Hoglund (Dell Rapids, S.D.) free throws, followed by a Harden layup pulled the Tigers (21-8, 13-7 GPAC) within three points. After a 3-point play by Hoglund made it a two-point game, Doane put together an 11-4 run to hold a 20-11 lead midway through the first half.
DWU called a timeout to regroup with 7:35 to play in the half. Coming out of the break, Harden connected on a layup to begin a 19-2 run, that was capped off by a Harden 3-pointer. Harden finished off the half with a layup with 30 seconds to play to give the Tigers a 32-25 lead heading to intermission.
Doane began the second half with a jump shot to make it a five-point game. But, senior Aaron Ahmadu (Houston, Texas) found Hoglund for the dunk to push the lead to nine points moments later.
After five minutes of play into the second half, Ahmadu found McCloud behind the 3-point arc as he knocked down the deep shot to make the DWU lead double digits.
Doane answered back with a 3-point basket and a layup to pull within four points with 11:43 to play. Harden kept the Tigers of Doane at a distance as he made a pair of layups on the next two possessions.
A 3-point shot by McCloud and Ahmadu within a minute span helped DWU cushion its' lead at 56-49. After Harden made a pair of free throws, Doane went on another run to take the lead, this time with an 11-1 spurt.
The lead was short-lived as McCloud nailed his third 3-point shot of the game to give DWU a 62-60 lead. A minute later, he connected on his fourth and final 3-pointer of the game to put the Tigers up 67-60 and hold on for the win.
Harden led all scorers with 24 points, as he tallied five rebounds and five assists. Hoglund chipped in 23 points and six rebounds, while McCloud added 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Collin Kramer (Volga, S.D.) recorded five points, seven rebounds, four blocks, four steals and three assists. DWU shot 36.5 percent from the field, forced Doane into 16 turnovers and scored 20 points off turnovers.
The Tigers begin postseason play against Northwestern College in the opening round of the GPAC Tournament at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Corn Palace.