Wildcat hoopsters tough out two wins over Duluth

The Wayne State basketball teams both came away victorious Saturday in close matchups with Minnesota Duluth on Saturday. The Wildcat women used free throws to earn a 76-70 win, while the men won an exciting overtime thrillers over the Bulldogs, 88-86.

In the women’s game, Wayne State tied a season-high, going 30-of-34 at the free throw line as the Wildcats to hold off Minnesota Duluth and improve to 18-6 overall and 12-4 in the NSIC.

Both teams shot 50 percent in the first quarter, but the Wildcats went a perfect 10-for-10 at the free throw line to build a 24-15 first-quarter lead.

After the Wildcats built an 11-point lead at 35-24 on two Paige Ballinger free throws with 2:59 to go in the half, Duluth closed the half with three straight points from Allison Olley to make the halftime score 35-27.

A Maggie Schulte 3-pointer gave Wayne State its biggest lead of the night at 51-39 with 2:21 to play in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs scored seven straight and trimmed the Wildcat lead to eight at the end of the third quarter 54-46.

Duluth got as close as three early in the fourth quarter at 56-53, but the Wildcats responded with a 7-0 run and pushed the led back to 10 at 63-53 following an Erin Norling three-point play with 7:12 to play.

Two Maggie Schulte free throws at the 3:14 mark increased Wayne State’s lead to 69-58. The Bulldogs got within five several times but Wayne State sealed the victory with free throws late to finish a 4-0 home stand and pick up their 10th straight win in Rice Auditorium.

Ballinger led the Wildcats in scoring with 20 points, going 14-of-15 at the charity stripe. She also led Wayne State on the glass with nine rebounds and also had four assists and two blocks. Norling and Schulte each contributed 14 points in the Wildcat win, with Schulte adding five steals.

For the fourth time in their last nine meetings, the Wayne State and Minnesota Duluth men needed an extra session to determine a winner, and the Wildcats shot 57.9 percent from the floor to get the win and get back to the .500 mark at 12-12 (7-9 NSIC).

Duluth was on fire the first half, hitting 72 percent (18-of-25) from the floor to take a 45-39 advantage into the locker room.

Wayne State came back strong in the second half, turning an eight-point deficit into a 56-49 lead with 13:51 to go after Jordan Cornelius drained a long 3-pointer.

Duluth battled back and regained the lead at 65-64 on a Trevon Entwisle 3-pointer with 7:51 remaining. Following the game’s seventh tie at 67-67, another Cornelius 3-pointer gave Wayne State a 70-67 lead, and the Wildcats pushed the lead to six at 76-70 with 1:34 to play.

But the Bulldogs used 3-pointers from Logan Rohrscheib and Entwisle with the latter coming on a 27-footer from the left wing with six seconds left, sending the game into overtime at 76-76.

The overtime session was close with neither team leading by more than three points. Cornelius put the Wildcats in front 87-84 with :28 left, and Duluth’s Brandon Myer converted on the next possession to cut the deficit to 87-86 with 14 seconds remaining.

The Bulldogs fouled Wayne State’s Kendall Jacks with :12 to go and he made one of two charity tosses to make it 88-86. The Bulldogs went to Myer for the game-tying shot, but it was strong and a putback by Mamadou Ngom was off the mark as the Wildcats held on for the win.

Junior guard Vance Janssen scored a career-high 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting to lead the Wildcats in scoring. Jacks finished with 21 while Cornelius and Trevin Joseph also hit double figures with 16 and 12, respectively.

Cornelius grabbed nine rebounds for the Wildcats. Jansen led the team with five assists and four steals, while Brian Goodwin had four assists and three thefts.

The Wildcats are on the road next weekend, playing at Bemidji State Friday night at 6 and 8 p.m. and Minnesota Crookston Saturday at 4 and 6 p.m.

The Wayne Herald

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