MADISON, S.D. – Midland University’s men’s basketball team played in its third consecutive close game to open it’s 2019-20 campaign on Wednesday night, and this time the Warriors battled into overtime before coming out on top on the road.
The Warriors (2-1 overall) prevailed 77-68 over the Dakota State Trojans (0-4 overall) on Wednesday night thanks to a second half comeback and a lopsided overtime period.
“We were really proud of the way our guys responded in the second half and overtime,” said Midland head coach Oliver Drake. “Any time you go on the road it’s going to be a battle and tonight was just that.”
Midland trailed 36-26 at the half and outscored Dakota State by 10 to finish out regulation before using a 12-3 scoring advantage in overtime to secure the win. Five different Warriors scored in the extra five-minute period to lift the Warriors to victory.
Both teams struggled to stay in rhythm on offense in the early stages of the first half, but began to score more frequently in the final four minutes. The Trojans caught fire late and connected on each of their final six field goal attempts, including three straight buckets from Brady Van Holland, to end the half.
From that point on, the biggest lead for either team in regulation was a six-point advantage for Midland with just under seven minutes to play. Six straight points from Emanuel Bryson helped spark a 15-7 scoring run for the Warriors, but the Trojans refused to go quietly.
Dakota State held the Warriors scoreless in the final two minutes of regulation and connected on three of their final four field goals attempts to force overtime. After Gare Ewefada’s missed jumper, Sandquist was short on a three-point attempt as time expired to send the game to overtime, where the Warriors took care of business.
Midland started the overtime period with a 6-2 run and only surrendered one field goal. The Warriors also made five free throws in the final minute to put the finishing touches on the win.
Junior Ryan Williams led the Warriors with 29 points on 10-for-23 shooting from the field. He finished with a double-double as he added 13 rebounds to his tally as well.
Smallwood and Rueschhoff each finished in double figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively, while each grabbed six rebounds to add to Midland’s total of 44. Bryson played just 15 minutes by finished with a career-high 10 points while adding four rebounds and two steals. Bryson’s defense also proved pivotal in helping the Warriors secure the win.
Van Holland came off the bench to lead the Trojans with 21 points as Ewefada was the only starter in double figures with 12. The close loss still leaves Dakota State searching for its first win in 2019-20, with three of their four losses being to GPAC schools.
Midland outrebounded the Trojans 44-21 and shot over 50 percent from the field, which was enough to overcome 19 turnovers and a mere 3-for-17 performance from three-point range.
“Any time you win a game when you shoot 17 percent from three, you have to take it and run,” Drake said. “On the flip side, we attacked the glass at a high level and made more free throws than our opponents attempted. Those two stats lead to road wins. This group has a chance, we just have to keep working and getting better.”
For a young team, it will be the little things and attention to detail that make the biggest difference down the stretch in games like the one the Warriors played on Wednesday.
Midland returns home on Tuesday, November 5, for a 7:00 p.m. tipoff with York College.