SIOUX FALLS, S.D. –Heading into the season, the Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball team knew it would have a different look with no true post threat. DWU transformed its offense from relying on a post presence from past years to a high-flying, fast-paced team throughout the 2018-19 campaign.
The Tigers began the season ranked No. 17 in the NAIA Division II Top-25 Poll and won their first six games of the season. Following the 6-0 start, DWU dropped two of its next three games by a combined eight points. The Tigers went on to win their next four games, including an overtime thriller against University of Antelope Valley in Las Vegas. In the final game of 2018, DWU fell 112-110 in overtime at home to NAIA Division I No. 17 Peru State University.
DWU kicked off the New Year with arguably its best win of the season, an 86-82 victory over then-No. 2 Morningside College. The Tigers hit a skid at the end of January when they lost to then-No. 3 Morningside College and to then-No. 18 University of Jamestown on the road. However, DWU solidified its place in the national tournament by winning five of its final six games, finishing with a 22-9 overall record and ranking No. 16 in the final NAIA Division II Top-25 Poll.
The Tigers entered the GPAC Tournament as the fourth seed and hosted Northwestern College in the conference quarterfinals. The Tigers shot past the Red Raiders in the first-round matchup, defeating NWC 110-99. In the conference semifinals, the Tigers took on No. 1 seed Morningside College. DWU held a 46-40 lead at halftime, but the Tigers were unable to come away with the upset, dropping the contest 88-81.
The Tigers head into the NAIA Division II National Tournament as an at-large team. DWU will look to build off of last season after going 1-1 in the national tourney. The Tigers cruised past their first-round opponent Governors State University, but they lost to College of Idaho in the final seconds of the second-round game.
The Tigers once again are near the top of the NAIA Division II statistically this season, ranking third in 3-point field goals made per game (12.1), fourth in total 3-point field goals made (374), seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5) and eighth in turnover margin (3.7). Junior guard Ty Hoglund leads the team and conference with 25.9 points per game and ranks fifth in the country in the same category. Hoglund has 778 points on the season, good for sixth in the NAIA and first in the conference. Transfer guard Nick Harden has made an immediate impact in his first season with the Tigers, leading the team with 3.8 assists and 2.6 steals per game. Harden ranks second in the GPAC in steals per game and fifth nationally, while ranking second in the conference and fourth nationally in total steals with 77 on the season.
With Hoglund averaging 25.9 points per game and Harden with 17.8 points per contest, DWU has a handful of other options who can score as well. Senior guard Aaron Ahmadu is third on the team with 10 points per game, while Samuel McCloud checks in with 9.5 points per game. If the Tigers look to make a deep run in the national tournament, their scoring threats just might be the reason why.