Men’s basketball gets beat by Beavers, loses in NSIC Quarterfinals

Nate Bope, Staff Writer

 The Wayne State College men’s basketball team faced off with the Bemidji State Beavers in the Quarterfinal round of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament.  

The Beavers rode a hot shooting performance from Johnny Tennyson and shot the three-pointer well to advance in the NSIC Tournament, eliminating the Wildcats, and ending their season. WSC finishes with a record of 18-11 overall and a 13-10 record in NSIC play. 

The big storyline coming into this game was the status of Wildcats star Jordan Janssen, who suffered a foot injury in a game against Sioux Falls on Feb. 16. The starting lineups were announced, and Janssen was nowhere to be seen.  

“It was a tough decision to make,” Janssen said. “I really didn’t know if I was going to play until about 10 minutes before the game. I tried to make myself serviceable to our team and give us the best chance to win.” 

The Wildcats started the first half off with an 8-5 lead. The Beavers fought back to tie the game at 10 apiece, then Bemidji State also took a seven-point lead, 19-12, culminating in a 14-4 Beaver run over a seven-minute stretch.  

WSC cut the lead down to one a handful of times in the first half, but the same result occurred every time. Bemidji State hit some huge three-point shots in crucial moments to give themselves their cushion of a lead back. That is, until with 1:43 to go, the scoreboard reading 27-26 in favor of the Beavers, senior Nick Ferrarini hit two massive three-point shots to give the Wildcats the lead back. And that’s where it would stay, with the Wildcats leading the Beavers at halftime, 32-31. 

Entering the second half, it was anybody’s game to win. After the two sides traded scores, the Beavers got hot from deep, making three straight three-pointers and a layup on an 11-0 run to give them a 44-34 lead with 16:34 to play.  

Over the next 10 minutes, the Wildcats would make many efforts to lose the gap, but whenever the Wildcats went on a run, so did the Beavers. Bemidji State stretched the lead to as many as 14 and led 68-59 with 6:59 left on the clock.  

Then the Wildcats finally punched back. Back-to-back-to-back jumpers from Nate Mohr, Jay Saunders, and Ferrarini cut the lead to three point. However, as the theme had been with this game, whenever the Wildcats made a run, so did the Beavers.  

Bemidji State scored the next five points, stifling the WSC effort. The Wildcats brought it back down to a four-point game with 2:17 to play. But after a couple of breakaway chances missed by WSC, the Beavers were able to secure their win at the free throw line. Bemidji State moves on to the semifinals after a 79-71 win over the NSIC South Division Champion, WSC. 

“Not having Jordan a whole lot changed our gameplan a lot,” freshman guard David Harmon said. “Through the course of the game, they always hit timely shots and just made more buckets than we did.” 

Leading the way for the Wildcats was Ferrarini, who scored a team high 17 points including three three-pointers. Cody McCullough had 14 points and 8 rebounds, followed by Harmon with 13 points and Saunders with 12.  

In his final game as a Wildcat, Janssen would record only 11 minutes of game time and scored just two points. Ironic for the all-time leading scorer in WSC history. This also marked the final career game for Mohr and Ferrarini. 

“I just want to be remembered as a guy that did things the right way,” Janssen said. “I want to be remembered [as] a good teammate, a good friend and a good mentor. I gave it everything I had every game.” 

The Wildcats shot 42.9% from the floor and only 25% on three-point attempts. Yet, WSC was perfect from the free throw line, going 13-13.  

The Beavers were led by Johnny Tennyson, who had the hot shooting hand going 8-10 from the floor and shooting 6-8 from beyond the three-point arc, giving him a game high 23 points. Following him were John Sutherland and Mohamed Kane who each had 16 points and were the two leading rebounders, with 9 and 6 respectively. RJ Smith was the last Beaver to hit double figures, finishing with 12. The Beavers as a team shot 47.5% overall and a staggering 43.3% from three-point land.  

“I feel like we all know we are capable of doing,” Harmon said. “I feel like we can really make an impact moving into next year.”