Wayne State held Augustana to just 37 percent shooting while the Wildcats had balanced scoring with five players in double figures as WSC captured the NSIC Men’s Basketball South Division title Sunday afternoon with an 82-70 win over Augustana at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. WSC is 10-4 in the NSIC South Division and 10-6 overall and while Augustana is now 9-6 and 7-6 in division play.
WSC jumped out to a quick 11-2 lead following a Nate Mohr 3-pointer with 16:14 to go in the first half.
The next three minutes saw Augustana get hot from the field and cut the Wildcat lead to 13-11.
Another Mohr 3-pointer gave the ‘Cats a 16-11 lead at the 13:12 mark.
Augustana went on a 10-3 run and took their first lead of the game at 21-19 on a Michael Schaefer layup with 10:32 to play in the half.
The Vikings still held a 25-22 lead at the 9:41 mark when WSC held the Vikings without a basket for just under seven minutes to take the lead for good.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from freshman Alec Millender put the ‘Cats in front 28-25. A Cody McCullough basket and Jay Saunders free throw gave WSC a 31-25 lead.
With WSC still leading 33-29 at the 3:17 mark, the Wildcats got baskets from McCullough and Ben Dentlinger followed by another 3-pointer from Mohr to take a 40-29 lead before closing the half with a 42-33 advantage.
After WSC shot 54.8 percent (17-31) in the first half, both teams clamped down defensively in the second half and WSC made shots late to extend the lead while holding Augustana to under 40 percent shooting in the contest.
The Wildcats maintained the lead the entire second half, mostly around double digits.
Four different times Augustana got as close as seven points with the final time coming at 61-54 with 8:26 remaining.
Each time the Wildcats would answer with key points to push the lead back to double figures.
Augustana was within eight at 65-57 with 5:19 to play, but WSC used a pair of Mohr free throws, baskets by Dentlinger and Mohr and two more Mohr free throws to build a 73-59 lead and WSC finished with the 82-70 win.
Mohr led Wayne State in scoring with 21 points on 6 of 12 shooting, including 5-7 from the 3-point line. Jordan Janssen followed with 17 points while senior forward Ben Dentlinger added a season-high 16 points on 6 of 8 shooting. Alec Millender (12) and Cody McCullough (11) also hit double figures for WSC.
For the sixth time in the last seven games, WSC shot over 50 percent from the field as the Wildcats made 26 of 51 shots for 51 percent. The ‘Cats were 8 for 12 from the 3-point line and made 22 of 29 free throws for 75.9 percent.
Dylan LeBrun scored 21 points for Augustana. Michael Schaefer added 17 points while Tyler Riemersma had 12 points and 22 rebounds.
Augustana shot just 37.3 percent from the field on 22 of 59, going 6 for 23 behind the arc. The Vikings were 20 of 28 at the foul stripe
Augustana held a 37-34 edge in rebounding over WSC despite 10 caroms from McCullough and six by Dentlinger.
Dentlinger had three blocked shots in the game while Millender was credited with six assists.
The NSIC office will release the pairing for the Sanford Health Men’s Basketball Tournament later Sunday evening with the tournament being held February 25-28 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.