Men’s basketball team has hard weekend

Kendall Jacks and Jordan Cornelius

Courtesy of Wayne State Athletics

Kendall Jacks and Jordan Cornelius

Rachel Vogt, Staff Writer

The Wayne State Wildcat men’s basketball team struggled in two back-to-back road games this past weekend at Northern State University and at MSU Moorhead. The ’Cats fell short in a close battle against the Northern State Wolves.

Northern State delivered the loss in the final two seconds as a 3-pointer from the right corner gave the Wolves the 71-69 victory over the Wildcats. WSC Assistant Coach Nathan Stover knew it would be a tough contest between the two teams.

“NSU was ranked ninth in the NABC Top 25 poll, so we knew they would be a challenging team and we would just have to be ready for everything they would throw at us,” said Stover.

Wayne State junior guard Kendall Jacks said the ’Cats went over film in the week preceding the matchup so the team would be prepared for what Northern would have to offer.

“We knew they could shoot really well and we knew that they could shoot from the outside too,” said Jacks. “They showed that in the first half of the game.”

Northern State closed the first half of the contest with the 33-27 lead.

“We went out for the second half knowing that we would have to turn up our defense and apply more pressure to force turnovers and create mistakes on their part,” said Jacks.

Wayne State started the second half strong with a pair of steals and 3-point plays to even the score at 35-35 two minutes into the second half. However, this would not be the last time the two teams would have a tied score. The final tie of the game was 43-43 following a basket from sophomore center Tony Bonner with 12:29 remaining. The Northern State Wolves then went on a 16-5 run over the next four-and a-half minutes to take their biggest lead of the night at 59-48.

The Wildcats rallied to get back into the game. WSC closed in to 65-63 with just under two minutes to play. A 3-point play by junior guard Vance Janssen with 36 seconds remaining on the clock got the ’Cats within one at 69-68.

The ’Cats then forced an NSU turnover on the following possession with a steal by junior guard Trevin Joseph. This led to Wayne State’s first and only lead of the game with just over 20 seconds remaining as Joseph missed the layup following a steal, but senior forward Jordan Cornelius was there for the putback to give the ’Cats the 69-68 advantage.

Northern State then hit a 3-pointer to gain the lead at 71-69 with 2.2 seconds left in the game.

Joseph led the ’Cats with 16 points, while Jacks contributed 10 points and six rebounds. Bonner and Janssen also each contributed 9 points with five and two rebounds, respectively.

“The men did a good job holding (NSU’s) ‘bigs’ to 9 points, when between the two of them they had previously been scoring an average of 20 points between the two,” said Stover. “At the end of the game, they just had a freshman make a tough shot that was defended well, but that set them up for the win.”

The Wildcat men then turned around to face the MSU Moorhead Dragons the following day.

MSU Moorhead rolled past the Wildcats to grasp a 90-66 victory in Moorhead, Minnesota.

The game was tight early until a late Dragon scoring run ended the first half and gave a sizeable 45-30 advantage to MSU Moorhead.

The ’Cats opened the game with an early 7-2 lead, but the Dragons scored the next eight points to lead to a 10-7 advantage. Wayne State held only one more lead throughout the game at 16-14 on a Joseph 3-pointer at the 11:00 mark of the first half.

The Dragons held off the ’Cats, scoring 14 consecutive points to end the half with a 45-30 lead.

Wayne State pushed for an early comeback in the second half and got within eight points to get to 49-41 four minutes into the second half following a Janssen layup.

The ’Cats still trailed the Dragons 58-48 at the 12:24 mark, but the Dragons pulled away with a 10-0 run over the next two minutes to seize a 68-48 advantage, and eventually a 90-66 victory over the WSC Wildcats.

Jacks led WSC with 14 points, followed by Cornelius and Janssen, who contributed 12 each.

“On Saturday, the team was just very flat and not engaged defensively,” said Stover. “We went into the game thinking that we were going to face a team we thought we should beat. Some things that didn’t help that was the three-hour bus ride Saturday morning, but that goes along with any road game, that’s something we just have to overcome and we didn’t do that Saturday night. It was almost like we were two completely different teams between Friday and Saturday.”

The Wildcats return to Rice Auditorium to start a four-game home stand as WSC is due to host Winona State Friday night at 8 p.m. and Upper Iowa Saturday in a 6 p.m. contest.