Wayne State used a 20-point, 14-rebound performance from junior forward Jordan Janssen to hold off St. Cloud State 73-70 Thursday evening in the NSIC Sanford Health Men’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinals played at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The NSIC South Division champion Wildcats improve to 11-6 on the season and now face the winner of MSU Moorhead and Minnesota State (Friday 7 p.m.) in Saturday’s semifinals at 7 p.m.
The ‘Cats got off to a quick start, making their first five shots of the game to take an early 12-2 advantage following an Alec Millender 3-pointer at the 16:37 mark of the first half.
St. Cloud State stormed back with a 14-2 run and took their lone lead of the first half on a Caleb Donaldson layup for a 16-14 Husky lead with 11:59 to play in the half.
WSC answered with a Jordan Janssen putback off a Henry Penner miss and a Nate Thayer 3-pointer to regain the lead at 19-16.
The Huskies stayed close throughout the half and was within one at 31-30 with two minutes to play, but WSC used a Jay Saunders trey followed by a pair of Ben Dentlinger free throws and a lay in by Millender to end the half giving the Wildcats a 38-32 lead at intermission.
The start of the second half saw St. Cloud State make seven of the their opening nine shots, using a 19-6 run to open the half, to take a 51-44 lead at the 13:29 mark.
WSC was still down 55-47 with 12:27 remaining when the ‘Cats went on a 13-2 run, capped by 3-pointers from Millender and Zach LaFave, allowed the Wildcats to regain the lead at 60-57 with 7:55 to play.
SCSU battled back and forged ties at 60-60 and 62-62. After WSC took a pair of four-point leads, the Huskies made a 3-pointer to get within one at 68-67 with 2:46 left.
Freshman Jay Saunders drained a 3-pointer followed by a Millender basket to put the ‘Cats back up six at 73-67 with 1:23 to go.
The Huskies made 3 of 4 free throws to close within 73-70 with 36 seconds left.
Wayne State’s Nate Mohr was fouled, but missed a pair of free throws with 26 seconds left to keep the score 73-70.
Following a Husky timeout with 19 seconds to play, WSC clamped down on SCSU defensively limiting the Huskies to a forced 3-point shot with one second left that fell short and the Wildcats held on for the 73-70 victory.
Janssen paced Wayne State with his 10th double-double of the season – 20 points and 14 rebounds. Millender also hit double figures for the ‘Cats with 12 points and a season-high seven assists.
WSC made 28 of 69 shots for 40.6 percent, including 9 of 21 behind the arc. The ‘Cats were 8 for 10 at the line.
Josh Tomasi led St. Cloud State with 21 points followed by Caleb Donaldson with 17 points. Anthony Roberts, who entered the game ranked second in the NSIC in scoring at 21.1 points a game, was held to 12 on 1 of 9 shooting from the field while making 10-10 at the foul line. Ryan Bagley chipped in 10 points and 10 rebounds for SCSU.
SCSU was 21 of 54 from the field for 38.9 percent and 7 for 23 from the 3-point line. The Huskies made 21 of 26 free throws.
Wayne State held a 39-36 advantage in rebounding thanks to 14 boards from Janssen. The Wildcats had 21 assists on 28 baskets, led by Millender with seven assists and Nate Mohr five.
Ben Dentlinger and Cody McCullough were each credited with three blocked shots.