Wildcats post wins over Sioux Falls

Jordan Cornelius joined the 1,000-point club and the Wayne State women won their eighth straight game as the Wildcats took care of business in their home finale Saturday against University of Sioux Falls.

In men’s action, Cornelius scored a game-high 16 points and reached the 1,000-point mark on Senior Night to lead the Wildcats to a 78-64 win over Sioux Falls at Rice Auditorium.

With the exception of the opening basket of the game by Sioux Falls, Wayne State never trailed in the contest. Five different Wildcats scored early as Wayne State (14-14, 9-11 NSIC) took an early 18-7 lead just 6:30 into the game.

Wayne State made 10 of their first 13 shots on the night, but could not shake the Cougars as USF was within three at 22-19 with 8:12 to go in the half.

Leading 27-23, the Wildcats scored seven straight to take a 34-23 lead following a Vance Janssen jumper with 3:16 to go before halftime and finished the first half making 17-of-27 shots from the field to take a 39-29 halftime lead.

Wayne State never gave the Cougars a chance to come back in the second half as the Wildcats pushed the lead to 20 at the 12:38 mark (53-33). Cornelius became the 33rd player in school history to score 1,000 points when he drained a 3-pointer from the right win at the 16:47 mark to put the Wildcats in front 48-31.

Sioux Falls did close the gap to nine points with 2:44 to play at 71-62, but two Austin Esters free throws and a 3-pointer from JJ Zumbrennen pushed the lead back to 14 and Wayne State went on to the 14-point victory.

Cornelius led four Wildcat players in double figures with his 16 points, going 5-of-6 from the field (3-of-4 from the 3-point line) and 3-of-4 at the charity stripe, on his milestone scoring night. Trevin Joseph (13), Austin Esters (11) and Kendall Jacks (10) also hit double digits for the Wildcats.

Esters and Brian Goodwin grabbed five boards each for the ‘Cats. Janssen handed out five of Wayne State’s 12 assists and had two steals.

In women’s action, Wayne State needed a 23-12 scoring surge in the fourth quarter to finish off the pesky Cougars 64-51 and won their eighth straight to improve to 22-6 overall and 16-4 in the NSIC.

The Wildcats took an early 13-6 lead in the contest and led 17-12 after one quarter and Wayne State maintained that advantage as they led 29-24 at intermission.

Sioux Falls had a hot start to the third quarter and took a 33-32 lead on Augusta Thramer’s jumper with 4:40 to play in the third quarter, but Wayne State took the lead for good at 39-38 on a Brittany Bongartz jumper as the Wildcats finished the quarter with a 41-39 lead.

The Wildcats made six of seven shots to open the fourth quarter to establish separation from the Cougars. Fueling the run were 3-pointers from Maggie Schulte and Evelyn Knox to give Wayne State their first double-digit lead of the night at 56-45 with 5:43 to play, and they continued that advantage on their way to the 13-point win.

Senior center Paige Ballinger led the Wildcats with 19 points and nine rebounds followed by Bongartz with 12 points. Ballinger and Schulte each grabbed nine rebounds for the Wildcats.

Wayne State will close out the regular season on the road next weekend visiting Upper Iowa Friday at 6 and 8 p.m. and Winona State Saturday at 4 and 6 p.m.

The Wayne Herald

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