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DWU men host critical GPAC game today

Dakota Wesleyan's Ty Hoglund (24) moves the ball at the top of the key as Mount Marty's Zane Schumaker (4) and Drew Cheskie (42) defend on Jan. 31 at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball coach Matt Wilber has not experienced a defeat like the Morningside College loss on Feb. 7.

"There's no question that Morningside loss was the toughest loss that I have been through as a head coach here," Wilber said. "I feel terrible for our guys because the right guys had the ball. The right guys were where we wanted them to be."

The Tigers led the Mustangs 83-75 with 1-minute and 33 seconds left, but went scoreless from there and lost on a Tyler Borchers buzzer beater.

"That was just a devastating loss," Wilber added. "It was just devastating because we did everything we needed to win the game and eight possessions by both teams just completely didn't go our way. We are going to have to bounce back and come back again. That's the only course you can take."

After playing nationally ranked Briar Cliff and Morningside College in two straight road games, DWU's gauntlet of tough Great Plains Athletic Conference games continues today. The No. 17 Tigers (19-9, 9-7 GPAC) host No. 10 Northwestern College (22-4, 12-4 GPAC) at 8 p.m. today at the Corn Palace.

"Maybe our toughest one, frankly, with matchups," Wilber said. "These guys are a really tough matchup for us—offensively and defensively."

The Red Raiders average 92.8 points per game, which is tops in the GPAC and second in the NAIA. They are powered by guards Colton Kooima and Nathan Wedel, who rank 18th and 20th, respectively, in NAIA scoring average. Kooima scores 21.3 points per game, Wedel averages 21 points a contest.

The senior duo have combined for the top-five individual scoring games in the GPAC this season. Kooima's 51-point outburst against Concordia University in December is also tied for the most in an NAIA Division II game this season.

Kooima, an NAIA All-American and the GPAC's leading scorer, erupted for 38 points in Northwestern's 95-86 win against DWU earlier this season.

"They played great against us down there," Wilber said. "They made a ton of shots, but they also really guarded us well."

DWU senior center Jason Spicer tied a career-high with 31 points in the first meeting, but sophomore guard Ty Hoglund was held to a career-low two points.

"We are going to have to be sharper here and it's not just because you are playing at home," Wilber said. "They win on the road just as much as they win at home. We have a huge basketball game in front of us again."