FREMONT, Neb. – In an abbreviated Draemel Classic, the Warriors were in action Friday afternoon against Dakota State University. The Warriors used a balanced attack with 10 players seeing at least 10 minutes of action as they earned their second victory of the season, defeating the Trojans 64-51. The Classic, which typically sees four teams competing on back-to-back days, was scaled back this year due to the pandemic and scheduling conflicts.
The Warriors got off to a rocky start opening the game with four consecutive turnovers, but they would turn things around with an 8-2 run to give them an early lead, 8-4 after the first four minutes.
The two sides battled back and forth as both offenses struggling to consistently score. Eventually the Warriors offense would come alive and it was fueled by freshman forward Kyle Castille. Castille scored 10 of the Warriors’ final 20 points in the first half and he had found success in multiple ways, hitting a three-pointer jump shot as well as converting a physical and-one layup. The efficient scoring stretch helped the Warriors to a 33-24 lead heading into halftime.
The Trojans were stifled by the Warriors’ stout defense in the first half, shooting just 36.6% (11-of-30) and even worse from beyond the arc, 20% (2-of-10).
After the break, the Warriors came out of the locker room stronger in the second half. A three pointer by freshman forward Colby Tichota and six more points from Castille helped the Warriors put together a 15-4 run by the 16:27 mark, pushing their lead to 19 points, 47-28.
The half was highlighted by a passing showcase put on by sophomore guard Jake Rueschhoff. His great vision and playmaking led to six second-half assists, finishing the game with ten total, tying a collegiate career-high, and becoming the first Warrior to reach the double-digit assist mark since he did it in the Warriors season finale last year against Mount Marty.
The Warriors’ lead wouldn’t shrink to less than 11 as their perimeter defense, and some poor Trojan free throw shooting guided them to the 64-51 victory.
Castille led Midland in scoring with 20 points while junior Bo Sandquist chipped in 11 as the only other Warrior in double figures. Castille and freshman Josh Lambert were the leading rebounders with 6 each.
“Our guys did a great job of protecting our home court today,” said head coach Oliver Drake postgame. “It certainly wasn’t our best shooting night but we did some nice things from a rebounding and sharing the ball standpoint. We challenged our guys before the game and I thought they responded well. Jake was phenomenal for us with ten assists and Arturo [Montes] and Tanner [DeKock] really sparked us off the bench with their competitive spirit.”
Midland (2-5, 1-4 GPAC) will next be in action on Wednesday, December 2 when they face Doane (3-3, 0-1 GPAC) on the road. Tipoff is set for 8:00 p.m. in Crete, Nebraska at the Haddix Center.