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Randy Rosenquist Jr., DWU men rally to take down No. 17 Morningside

Jan. 10—MITCHELL — Dakota Wesleyan's bid to take down a nationally-ranked team appeared in dire straits Wednesday night.

A 16-point first-half lead over No. 17 Morningside (Iowa) had disintegrated into a 10-point second-half deficit, and the Tigers looked poised to lose their third-straight game.

Randy Rosenquist Jr. assured otherwise.

The freshman buried a trio of critical 3-pointers in the final minutes, sparking a 20-4 run to propel the Tigers to a much-needed 90-86 win over the Mustangs at the Corn Palace.

Rosenquist's first 3-pointer, off a savvy step-back, gave the Tigers a pulse, cutting the Mustang's lead to five with 6:00 minutes to go. The second, with 5:21 remaining, cut the lead to four and began to sway the momentum. The third, a contested heat check from the corner, lifted DWU's lead to 80-76 with 3:29 to play.

"We just came out kind of quiet in the second half and I knew it was really now or never," Rosenquist said. "After I hit that first one, I let that second one go up and I started feeling it. So I let that third go up and it went in. It's just that basketball instinct."

Rosenquist and his 17 points weren't alone in the big comeback. Jakob Dobney and Samuel Aslesen each had 21 points, with Dobney hitting 11-of-14 free throw attempts, and Aslesen shooting 7-of-11 from the field.

Back-to-back layups by the duo tied the game at 76. Following a Mustangs turnover, Dobney drew a blocking call and sank a free throw to give the Tigers the lead with 3:59 to play. Following Rosenquist's third triple, the Tigers withstood Morningside's final surge, which included a questionable goal-tending call.

"Where we were at in the second half, for us to turn it around and keep playing, and for all the circumstantial things that have to go your way, I'll say this: our team deserved one," head coach Matt Wilber said. "Down the stretch, we made all the plays and all the free throws, and we held on once we took the lead."

DWU knew entering the game Morningside's (11-4, 6-2 GPAC) duo of 2023 honorable mention NAIA All-Americans, guard Joey Skoff and center Ely Doble, were going to be a handful.

In turn, the Tigers opened the game with urgency, shooting 50 percent from the field in the first half and hitting seven 3-pointers. DWU also limited Skoff to just a 2-of-7 shooting, taking a 49-40 lead into the break.

However, Skoff led the Mustangs on a 28-8 run in the second half with several 3-pointers, finishing with 22 second-half points. The Tigers also provided little answers for Doble off the pick-and-roll, as the senior finished with 29 points.

It's not the first time Tigers have let second-half leads slip before this season. They held a 22-point second-half lead against Viterbo (Wis.) before falling to the V-Hawks on Jan. 3. This time, the spark Rosenquist provided helped DWU come out on top against a nationally-ranked team and a conference rival.

"We just competed as much as we could," Wilber said. "It was just one of those games where the run we made, we just kept going. We just kept going and I'm proud of our guys."

"We know we are capable of winning big games like this and against good teams like Morningside," Rosenquist added. "But just to know that after that bad stretch we were able to come together and get a big win like that, it's just huge to not be on the losing side of another game like that."

DWU (9-8, 4-5 GPAC) will look to carry its momentum into a road test against Dordt at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17 in Sioux Center, Iowa.