Nebraska Wesleyan held off a late run by Briar Cliff as the Prairie Wolves upset the No. 8 Chargers, 83-74, in GPAC men's basketball action on Saturday afternoon (Jan. 30) at Snyder Arena in Lincoln, Neb.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for NWU, and gives Briar Cliff their third loss in a row. The Prairie Wolves improve to 7-12 overall, 5-7 in GPAC, while BCU is 17-6, 8-4 in GPAC.
NWU took control early in the game and shot amazingly in the first half hitting 60.0 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from 3-point range (5-7). The Prairie Wolves led 46-33 at the break.
They would extend their lead in the second half and led by as many as 23 points with 8:54 to play going up 72-49. From there, Briar Cliff went on a run and picked up their defensive intensity.
The Chargers would go on a 23-5 run over the next six minutes and pulled within 77-72 after a pair of Matt Geelan free throws with 2:01 to play. The next possession was the biggest of the game, as NWU missed a layup giving BCU the ball down five. Sharpshooter Kyle Semprini pulled up and hit a 3-pointer, but he traveled before the shot wiping out the made three.
NWU came down and Mitch Liberty went 1-for-2 at the free throw line, putting NWU up by six with 1:22 to play. After another missed 3-pointer, Nick Dinan extended the lead to 80-72 with two more free throws.
BCU hit just one field goal the rest of the way as the Prairie Wolves held on for the upset victory.
It marked the first win over a ranked team since last season when NWU defeated #12 Dordt on Jan. 10, and just the second win over a ranked team since 2004-05.
Five players scored in double figures for NWU who finished the game shooting 55.8 percent from the floor for their season-high 83 points.
Nick Dinan had a huge game with a career-high 23 points to go along with four rebounds, four assists and three steals. Jim Lance had 16 points, Ryan Thramer 12, Bryce Arp 11 and Jake Spurgeon scored 10 with nine rebounds.
Kyle Semprini had a game-high 25 points to lead Briar Cliff. Semprini hit seven 3-pointers but shot 19 going 7-19 from beyond the arc. Matt Geelan had 14 with seven rebounds.
Up next for NWU will be a home date against GPAC rival Doane College on Feb. 3 at Snyder Arena starting at 7:30 pm.