SIOUX FALLS – With two seconds left and trailing by a point, Ty Hoglund threw up a shot from half court that missed just off the mark as the Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball team lost in heartbreaking fashion to the overall number one seed Indiana Wesleyan University, 87-86 in the second round of the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championships, presented by Athletic Care, Friday at the Sanford Pentagon.
The Wildcats (30-5) opened up the game on a 12-0 run as the Tigers (23-10) struggled shooting from outside early. After a timeout, Nick Harden broke the DWU scoring drought with a layup. The Tigers would begin to find their stroke as Samuel McCloud (Rapid City, S.D.) and Harden buried 3-pointers from deep and the Tigers cut the Wildcat lead to four points.
DWU began to cash in on 3-point baskets as Collin Kramer tallied consecutive 3-pointers to pull the Tigers within a point. After the Wildcats would go on a quick spurt, Harden collected a steal and a bucket to make the score 28-24 in favor of IWU.
Moment later, with the shot clock running down, Mason Larson converted on a dunk and was fouled after an assist from Hoglund to bring the Tiger faithful to its feet.
DWU found themselves in a hole once again as the Wildcats opened another big lead at 14 points, but the Tigers would get to the line down the stretch and convert on free throws. The Wildcats finished the half on a layup to make the score 50-37 at halftime in favor of IWU.
The Wildcats began the second half with consecutive baskets, but Harden quickly answered back with a layup. Two minutes later, Harden drove the baseline and connected on the contested layup as he was fouled and made the ensuing free throw.
Hoglund joined the scoring as he made back-to-back layups to keep DWU within 12 points. The defense began to turn up the intensity as McCloud took a charge followed by another Wildcat turnover. Aaron Ahmadu added a layup on the offensive end to cut the deficit to single digits, forcing an IWU timeout.
With under 12 minutes to play, Hoglund nailed a 3-pointer to pull DWU within seven points, while McCloud took another charge on the defensive end to liven the DWU faithful.
With the shot clock running down, Hoglund hit a deep two-point shot, once again bringing the Tiger crowd to their feet and cutting the deficit to five points. Mason Larson joined the 3-point scoring as he nailed one to pull DWU within four points. On the next possession, Hoglund made a layup after he was fouled and made the free throw to make it a one-point game.
After Harden drove the baseline, he dished the ball out to McCloud who nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game at 74 with under five minutes to play. Hoglund gave the Tigers their first lead of the game with a layup to put DWU up 80-79 with 1:42 to play.
Moments later, Harden found Kramer beyond the arc as he made a huge 3-point basket to put the Tigers up 83-81 with a minute to play. Down the stretch after Ahmadu split a pair of free throws to put DWU up by two points, the Wildcats answered with a 3-pointer to put them up by a point with two seconds left. Hoglund had one final shot, but it glanced off the back of the rim as time expired.
Harden led DWU with 22 points, while McCloud added 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting from 3-point range. Hoglund finished with 19 points and four assists, as Kramer and Larson poured in 10 points apiece. DWU shot 49 percent from the field and 45 percent from 3-point range, while tallying 18 assists.
The Tigers conclude the season with a record of 23-10 overall.