All five starters scored in double figures as the Nebraska Wesleyan men's basketball team picked up its biggest win of the season on Saturday afternoon (Jan. 9) with a 81-71 victory over Northwestern College on the road at Orange City, Iowa in Great Plains Athletic Conference men's basketball action.
With the win, NWU snapped its eight game losing streak to the Red Raiders marking the first victory over Northwestern since the 2000-01 season.
Northwestern, who came into the game second in the GPAC standings, falls to 10-7 overall and 5-2 in the GPAC, while Nebraska Wesleyan improves to 5-7 and 3-2 in league play.
NWU came out with its aggressive defense early forcing the sharp shooting Red Raiders into contested jump shots. The Prairie Wolves led 37-26 at halftime, but knew the lead was not safe.
Like all good teams do, the Red Raiders mounted a fierce comeback and tied the game with 11:06 to play then took a 56-55 lead with 10:42 to play.
This time, NWU withstood the home team rally. Bryce Arp hit a pair of free throws to put NWU back up 57-56 and they would never trail again.
Some big plays came in the final three minutes of the game. With 2:42 to play and NWU leading by just three, guard Jake Spurgeon backed into the lane and hit a lay-up, was fouled and made the three-point play to give NWU a six point lead. On the next trip down the court, Nick Dinan found a wide open Ryan Thramer under the basket and he hit the lay-up, was fouled and made the second consecutive 3-point play to seal the victory.
Free throws were a huge part of the win as NWU went 29-39 from the charity stripe as they made as many free throws as Northwestern attempted (20-29). The biggest reason for the Prairie Wolves victory was the shooting in the second half. NWU was 12-22 for 54.5 percent in the final 20 minutes and finished the game at 45.3 percent.
Scoring was incredibly balanced as all five starters reached double figures. Nick Dinan led the way with 15 points, Thramer had 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds, while Jim Lance scored 13 and also had eight boards. Spurgeon finished with 12 points and Andy Schweitzer rounded out the scoring with 11.
For Northwestern, Walker Seim had a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds, but was just 5-13 from 3-point range.
Nebraska Wesleyan, who moved up to seventh in the GPAC standings, will hope to carry this momentum into Wednesday (Jan. 14) when they host GPAC rival Concordia University at 8 p.m., in Snyder Arena.