Harden Helps Tigers Top Midland

Late Three Gives Dakota Wesleyan 82-81 Victory
Published: Feb. 14, 2021 at 6:51 PM CST
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MITCHELL, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The (RV) Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball team, who finished 62% from the field, survived a late heave from the corner versus conference foe Midland University and earned an 82-81 victory on Sunday from the Corn Palace in Mitchell, S.D.

After Midland raced out to a 6-0 run to start the game, a pair of 3-pointers by Sawyer Schultz (Emery, S.D.) and Drew Cole (Brookings, S.D.) evened the score at the 17:01 mark. Minutes later, Dakota Wesleyan secured its first lead of the contest as Nick Harden (Chicago, Ill.) secured a defensive rebound and converted a jump shot on the offensive end of the floor. Koln Oppold (Sioux Falls, S.D.), who finished with eight points and nine rebounds, drilled a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession and DWU controlled a 15-13 lead.

Both teams continued to exchange baskets as the first half entered the midway point. Ace Zorr (Harrisburg, S.D.) finished a layup off an assist from Harden which guided the Tigers (17-7, 13-6 GPAC) to a 22-17 lead. Following a 3-pointer by MID, Harden drove the lane for a basket at the rim and Dakota Wesleyan garnered a 26-20 advantage with 8:59 remaining.

Faced with their largest deficit of the day, the Warriors (5-17, 3-16 GPAC) outscored DWU 22-14 down the stretch and controlled a 42-40 lead as the game reached halftime. Cole, who finished 3-of-5 from beyond the arch, knocked down a three off a pass from Oppold. With under 90 seconds to play in the opening half, Zorr and Harden tallied a pair of layups and the Blue and Gray shot 68% from the field regardless of the two-point deficit.

Out of the intermission, MID scored the first six points of the second half and held a 48-40 advantage. After a timeout by the Warriors, Dakota Wesleyan trimmed the lead to two points at 53-51 with 13:38 remaining. Along with another Harden 3-pointer, Jeffrey Schuch (Dell Rapids, S.D.) connected on a pair of baskets near the rim to keep the Tigers within striking distance.

As the second half reached the midway point, DWU continued its momentum and retook the lead 55-54 off another 3-pointer from Harden, who finished 5-of-5 from beyond the arch. The five-foot-ten senior was assisted by Schuch and the Tigers looked to extend their lead.

The Warriors, however, kept the game in reach down the stretch and both teams exchanged the lead a total of seven times over the final five-and-half minutes. Teegan Evers (Huron, S.D.) converted a pair of free throws at the charity stripe as DWU shot 10-of-13 from the free-throw line, including 9-of-11 in the second half. Evers then finished at the rim off an offensive rebound and Schuch followed with a timely block on the defensive end of the floor as the game sat tied at 78-78.

After a timeout by Midland, Harden knocked down the final basket of the game as he connected from beyond the arch with under 30 seconds to play and gave the Tigers an 82-81 lead. A desperation attempt from the corner by the Warriors came up well short with under two seconds on the clock and DWU held on for the 82-81 home victory.

Harden led all scorers with 27 points and finished 9-of-15 from the floor along with five assists and a pair of steals. Meanwhile, Schuch notched a career-high 21 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. DWU finished 10-of-17 from beyond the arch and outrebounded the Warriors 29-22.

The Tigers conclude the season with a crucial matchup versus No. 21 University of Jamestown at 4 P.M. on Saturday from the Corn Palace in Mitchell, S.D.

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