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Feb. 21—A rough afternoon shooting the basketball affected the University of Jamestown men Saturday, and head coach Danny Neville said that can't happen Wednesday.
The Jimmies shot 33% in the first half at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, and trailed Dakota Wesleyan University by as many as 20 before falling 77-70 to the Tigers to close the regular season with a second consecutive loss. Northwestern College, however, was able to upset Great Plains Athletic Conference champion Morningside to lock the Jimmies into the No. 3 seed for next week's conference tournament.
Jamestown will host Dordt University on Wednesday at Harold Newman Arena beginning at 7 p.m.
The Jimmies missed 22 of 31 3-pointers attempted Saturday — including 12 of 16 before the break — which helped the game spiral out of UJ's control
"You can say that, but you've just gotta keep playing," Neville said. "You can't weigh how hard you play and what intensity you play with based off making and missing shots."
The return of 6-foot-7 junior Mason Larson to the floor was also key for Dakota Wesleyan. Larson turned in 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals while limiting UJ's Mason Walters to 14 points and five rebounds.
Larson spent the Tigers' last four games on the shelf after suffering a foot injury on Jan. 30 against Hastings College. Dakota Wesleyan lost three of four and allowed more than 80 points three times in Larson's absence.
"We're a team, but (Larson is) a very big piece to our puzzle," said Dakota Wesleyan head coach Matt Wilber in a postgame interview with KMIT 105.9 FM radio. "I wasn't prepared for Mason Larson — in my eight years coaching here — for him to be the biggest injury loss that I've had to endure. He's the heart of this program right now and him coming back here gave us a big lift."
Senior guard Nick Harden and junior Koln Oppold also provided a spark for the home team. Harden broke loose for a game-high 22 points and six assists, while Oppold turned in 19 points and 11 boards, after the duo combined to score just 18 markers in UJ's 74-66 win over the Tigers last month in Jamestown.
Senior Jack Talley was back in uniform Saturday for UJ and converted two early 3-pointers and 11 total points after serving a one-game suspension last week as the Jimmies fell at Northwestern College. But the Tigers defended the Jimmies on the perimeter as well as any team has all season.
"I just don't think we're playing up to our abilities and we have to fix that before we get to that first round," Neville said. "We just have to trust the little things like playing with some intensity, showing up, and giving your best every night. We just gotta get back to that."
The Tigers ended Jamestown's season last year in the opening round of the GPAC tournament. Dakota Wesleyan earned the No. 4 seed and will host Concordia on Wednesday.
"We didn't force stuff down the stretch. We just took what was there and a lot of guys made plays," Wilber said. "I kinda thought from the click we were ready to play and we weathered some storms. Guarding (UJ) on the 3-point line is a really big deal."
Jamestown's two victories over top-seeded Morningside is what broke the third-seed tie between the Jimmies, Dakota Wesleyan, and Concordia, who all finished league play at 14-6. If Northwestern would've lost to Morningside on Saturday, the Jimmies would've dropped to the No. 5 seed and lost a home playoff game.
But Northwestern, the No. 2 seed, cruised over Morningside, 83-66. Tournament seeding can be found below.
The Jimmies have defeated Dordt 91-74 this season and have also lost to Dordt, 87-68.
"Tonight was not a great reflection of us, but at the end of the day the chips fell in our favor and we're hosting a playoff game," Neville said. "There's no excuses. You can't go run and hide, so, hopefully, we can roll with the (home playoff) momentum, get a good crowd and continue to move forward."
(RV) Dakota Wesleyan 77, (21) University of Jamestown 70
UJ 29 41 — 70
DW 41 36 — 77
UJ — Mason Walters 14, Marc Kjos 13, Jack Talley 11, Brock Schrom 10, Allante' Pickens 8, Cole Woodford 6, Will Cordes 5, Brady Birch 3. Totals: 23-63 FG, 9-31 3-pointers (Talley 3, Kjos 3, Pickens, Cordes, Woodford), 15-21 FT, 37 Rebounds (Kjos 9, Schrom 9), 6 Assists (6 with 1), 18 Fouls (Walters 5), 10 Turnovers, 4 Blocks (Schrom 3), 5 Steals (Kjos 3).
DW — Nick Harden 22, Koln Oppold 19, Marson Larson 15, Teegan Evers 10, Jeffrey Schuch 6, Ace Zorr 3, Bradley Dean 2. Totals: 29-62 FG, 8-19 3-pointers (Oppold 4, Larson 3, Evers), 38 Rebounds (Oppold 11), 12 Assists (Harden 6), 18 fouls (Larson), 11 Turnovers, 3 Blocks, 6 Steals (Larson 3)
Records: Dakota Wesleyan 18-7, 14-6 GPAC. Jamestown 18-7, 14-6.
2021 Great Plains Athletic Conference Cypress Risk Management
Men's Basketball Post-Season Tournament
Quarterfinals — Wednesday, February 24
#8 Mount Marty (9-16, 9-11 GPAC) at #1 Morningside (20-4, 16-4 GPAC), 8pm
#5 Concordia (17-8, 14-6 GPAC) at #4 Dakota Wesleyan (18-7, 14-6 GPAC), 7pm
#6 Dordt (18-7, 13-7 GPAC) at #3 Jamestown (18-7, 14-6 GPAC), 7pm
#7 Briar Cliff (12-13, 9-11 GPAC) at #2 Northwestern (20-5, 15-5 GPAC), 8pm
Semifinals — Saturday, February 27
#8/#1 winner vs. #5/#4 winner, Time TBA
#6/#3 winner vs. #7/#2 winner, Time TBA
Championship — Tuesday, March 2
Semifinal winners at highest remaining seed, Time TBA