Nebraska Wesleyan’s basketball teams are both on a roll heading into this weekend’s Division III Independent tournaments. The NWU men, are 7-18 overall, but have won two in a row, while the NWU women have improved to 4-21 with two wins in their last three outings.
The Prairie Wolves will host the Men’s Division III Independent Tournament on Friday night and Saturday afternoon in Snyder Arena, while the women’s team will travel to Orange, Calif., where they will wrap up their 2006-07 season. Game times and opponents are listed below.
Nick Madsen (So., Lincoln, Neb., Lincoln High School) came off the bench on Saturday to score a career-high 17 points as NWU defeated Briar Cliff University 78-66. Madsen added four rebounds and four assists in just 22 minutes of action, and it was NWU’s second double-digit win in a row.
The other was Nebraska Wesleyan’s 87-71 win against Dana College on Feb. 10, when the Prairie Wolves, had four players in double figures, including Marcus Minzel (Jr., Lincoln, Neb., Lincoln High School), who scored 21 points and was 12-for-12 from the charity stripe. Minzel, who leads the team at 16.2 points per game, is averaging better than 20 points and nearly four assists during the team’s last four contests.
Finding the open man and limiting turnovers seem to be making the difference. The NWU men have shot better than 50 percent in each of their last two outings and are averaging 20 assists compared to just 10 turnovers per game.
Nebraska Wesleyan defeated the University of California-Santa Cruz, its opponent on Friday, twice last season, but fell short in a bid to upset Chapman University in the Division III Independent tourney title game, 76-67, which kept the Prairie Wolves from making the NCAA Div. III Championships in 2006.
Nebraska Wesleyan’s women also turned the tables on Briar Cliff last Saturday with a 58-55 win in Lincoln. The Chargers defeated Nebraska Wesleyan 67-64 in Sioux City, Iowa, earlier this season in much the same fashion. In that game, the Prairie Wolves trailed by 14 at halftime, but pulled within a point twice in the last two minutes before falling short. This time around, it was NWU with the upper hand during most of the game and BCU with the late rally.
NWU’s leading scorer Devan Aschtgen (Jr., Springfield, Neb., Platteview High School) made a free throw to snap a 55-55 tie with 24.5 seconds remaining. Then, she turned things over to her teammate Samantha Porter (Sr., Hastings, Neb., Hastings High School), who finished the Chargers off.
Porter forced a traveling violation with :06 remaining. Then, with just 4.8 ticks left, Porter calmly hit two free throws to give NWU a three-point edge and extend her streak of consecutive free throws made to 23, breaking the mark established by Amy Meier in 2005. Briar Cliff’s three-point shot at the buzzer drew iron, but missed, which made for a much happier celebration for Porter and Meagan Wells (Sr., Sidney, Neb., Sidney High School) on senior day.
Wells finished with 10 points against BCU and with a pair of three-pointers, she surpassed Stefanie Peterson for 10th place on the NWU all-time charts with 56 career treys. Her three-point percentage as a senior, .417 (25-for-60), ranks fourth in team single-season history, and her career 37 percent shooting from beyond the arc currently ranks fifth at Nebraska Wesleyan.
Despite missing more than half of the team’s games this season due to a foot injury suffered in the season finale for the women’s soccer team, Porter needs just five assists to become Nebraska Wesleyan’s career leader. Porter now has 324 for her career, trailing only Heather Wubbels, who racked up 328 from 1990-93.
Nebraska Wesleyan, which also came in as the No. 4 seed at the Division III Independent Tournament last season, stunned top-seeded Chapman, 91-67, but this year the Panthers will be playing on their home court.
Men’s Div. III Independent Basketball Tournament
At Lincoln, Neb., all times are local (CST)
Friday, Feb. 23
5 PM - (1) Chapman University, 19-5 overall, vs. (4) Colorado College, 3-21 overall
7 PM - (3) UC-Santa Cruz, 3-21 overall, at (2) Nebraska Wesleyan, 7-18 overall
Saturday, Feb. 24
1 PM - Consolation game
3 PM - Championship game
Women’s Div. III Independent Basketball Tournament
At Orange, Calif., all times are local (PST)
Friday, Feb. 23
5 PM - (3) UC-Santa Cruz, 10-15 overall, vs. (2) Colorado College, 9-13 overall
7 PM - (4) Nebraska Wesleyan, 4-21 overall, at (1) Chapman University, 20-5 overall
Saturday, Feb. 24
3 PM - Consolation game
5 PM - Championship game