The Dawson Community College Buccaneers extended their winning streak to 6 games, won their 20th game of the season and snapped North Dakota State College of Science’s 30 game conference winning streak with the 72-70 victory. The last time NDSCS lost a conference game was the first conference game 2 seasons ago on January 7th, 2016 against DCC. They ran off the next 11 straight that season, all 12 last season, and the first 7 this season. The win drops the Wildcats to 7-1 in the league and moves Dawson just one game behind at 6-2 and in sole possession of 2nd place.
It didn’t look like it would be a close game early on as the Wildcats jumped out to an early 16-6 lead behind the hot shooting of Sam Baker who was on fire from long range. It didn’t matter how far beyond the 3-point line he was and whether he was open or not, it didn’t seem like he could miss. He finished the half with 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Marquis Holloman chipped in with 3 from long range himself as the home team connected on 8-18 from deep which accounted for 24 of their 36 points. DCC somehow managed to stay within striking distance despite shooting 11% from 3-point range, not getting to the free throw line once and turning it over 8 times. NDSCS’s biggest lead of the half came at the intermission when they led 36-25.
Dawson seemed undeterred as they came out of the locker room and held the Wildcats scoreless for the first 5 possessions of the second half. On the offensive end, Tyrell Harper scored a few inside on mismatches and Brent Finn knocked down some jumpers from the outside. They quickly cut the margin to 6 and forced a timeout from the home team. Their barrage kept on coming after the timeout and they took the lead on another basket from Harper. The Buccaneer defense really tightened up in the 2nd half and the Wildcats couldn’t get any open looks from the outside. NDSCS only connected on 2-12 from outside the 3-point line in the second half while the Bucs finally started to find their range going 5-13. Overall from the field in the final half, the Bucs shot 52%. Dawson also took better care of the ball and only turned it over 4 times the rest of the way. But the biggest difference was that they got to the free throw line 22 times during the last 20 minutes. The Bucs increased their margin by as many as 9 points with four minutes to go. The Wildcats never regained the lead as Simon Falokun and Finn iced the game with some clutch free throw shooting to make it a two-possession game in the final 20 seconds. The Bucs were up by 5 in the final second before NDSCS went to the free throw line and made 3 free throws with 0.4 seconds remaining. Dawson inbounded the ball deep and finished with the 2-point victory 72-70. With the win, the Buccaneers now stand at 20-6 on the season.
Finn led the way for the Bucs with 23 points. Harper contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds while Falokun also had a double double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. For the Wildcats, Baker finished with 27 points, but only shot 4-13 in the second half. 2nd leading scorer and returning all-conference player, Melvin Newbern, only managed 7 points on 1-4 shooting from the field.
DCC Coach Joe Peterson was extremely pleased, “I thought we gave away the game the last time we played them at home and I wanted our guys to play this game with more desire than we had last time and to take a step forward in the way we trust our system and each other. I loved what we showed in the 2nd half when we were down. We fought hard and earned this one. This group has a high ceiling, but we have to keep getting better every day! This is just one game and now we have another big one coming on Thursday.”
The Buccaneers will return home on Thursday to face the only other team in the league who beat them this year, Lake Region State College. They will tip off at 7:30 at the DCC Toepke Center.