Senior Jay Wolfe‘s impressive performance down the stretch led the Briar Cliff men’s basketball team to a 92-83 win against Northwestern Wednesday night in the Newman Flanagan Center.
After allowing a double-digit second half lead to evaporate, the Chargers trailed 81-79 with less than three minutes to play. That’s when Wolfe took over.
Wolfe hustled to get an offensive rebound after a BC missed 3-pointer and took a shot of his own from in the paint to tie things up at 81 with 2:43 on the clock. Jaden Kleinhesselink then pulled in a defensive rebound on a Trent Hilbrands missed shot with a foul on Northwestern sending Kleinhesslink to the free throw line.
The freshman hit both ends of a one-and-one to give the Cliff a lead that the team would never relinquish. Mostly because of the heroics of Wolfe, who finished with 11 of the final 13 points and a crucial steal for the Blue and Gold in the last three minutes.
Wolfe finished the game as the top scorer for either team with 33 points. He just missed a double-double, finishing with nine rebounds to go along with three assists and three steals. Jackson Lamb came up big for Briar Cliff as well, putting up 20 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.
“Jackson’s just got that will to win,” Svagera said. “Our other guys feed off the energy he has.”
Ethan Freidel was next on the scoring chart for the Cliff with 17 points. Austin Roetman had nine points, including a slam dunk in the first half that got the crowd roaring. Kleinhesselink added seven points and four assists while hitting the pair of high-pressure free throws.
“Jaden’s a tough kid,” Svagera mentioned. “He’s not afraid of the moment.”
The first half was a back-and-forth affair with 13 lead changes as the Chargers went into the locker rooms holding a narrow 49-48 lead.
“The first half was like a game of H-O-R-S-E with everyone making baskets,” said Svagera.
Briar Cliff stood tall defensively to start the second half, not allowing the Red Raiders to score until nearly five minutes into the last frame. That allowed the Blue and Gold to lead by as many as 14 midway through the half. The biggest key was stopping Hilbrands, who put up 24 of his 26 points in the first half.
“I don’t know that we made any adjustments,” Svagera said. “We just told the guys we have to play with a little more one-on-one pride.”
Despite Hilbrands’ second-half struggles, Northwestern was still able to claw back in the game thanks to Jay Small and Parker Mulder picking up their level of play. Mulder finished the contest with a double-double, scoring 17 points and bringing in 10 rebounds. He also had six assists in the game. Small ended the game with 15 points for the Red Raiders.
Briar Cliff shot 52% from the field in the win and 36% on 3-pointers. The Blue and Gold connected on 19-of-23 free throws for 83%. Northwestern hit 46% from the field, 32% from beyond the arc and 87% from the charity stripe. The Red Raiders outrebounded BC 35-34, with an 8-6 edge in offensive boards. Briar Cliff had the edge in second-chance points, however, by an 8-7 margin.
The Cliff had 19 assists as a team with 10 turnovers. Northwestern had 14 assists with 15 turnovers. BC led in points off turnovers 24-13. Bench scoring was another category won by Briar Cliff, 16-14. The Chargers had a slight edge in points in the paint, 40-36.
With the win and a Jamestown loss against Dordt, Briar Cliff moved back to a tie for second in the GPAC standings at 13-5. The Chargers are 19-6 overall and take on conference front-runners Morningside at 4 p.m. Saturday at Allee Gym in Sioux City. The Mustangs have already clinched the regular season GPAC crown with a 16-1 record in conference play. Briar Cliff has locked up at worst the No. 4 seed in the conference, guaranteeing a home game in the conference tournament.
Northwestern dropped to 15-11 overall and 9-8 in league competition.
The Briar Cliff women’s basketball team struggled to find a rhythm against the #2 Red Raiders of Northwestern Wednesday and fell 76-41 at the Newman Flanagan Center.
The Cliff shot just 28.6% from the field, 21.4% from beyond the arc and 46.2% from the free throw line in the loss. Taylor Wagner scored seven points and added three steals to lead the Chargers. Logan Ehlers and Mya Hendry each scored seven points as well. Madelyn Deitchlerpulled down six rebounds and Bre Allen handed out three assists.
BC scored just 15 points in the entire first half, compared to 36 by Northwestern. The team doubled their score in the third quarter, adding 16 points in the period but could not overcome the #2 Red Raiders.
Northwestern went 26-for-55 in field goal shooting, 10-for-28 from the 3-point line and 14-for-17 from the charity stripe. The Red Raiders shared the ball and had four players in double figures. Darbi Gustafson and Kassidy DeJong each scored 13 points, Haley Birks added 12 and Jada Cunningham chipped in 10 points off the bench. Gustafson also pulled down 10 rebounds.
“The kids played hard on defense tonight,” said head coach Mike Power. “But played tight and missed too many layups and free throws, which are things we can control. The biggest stat we gave them was allowing 31 points off of turnovers.”
Briar Cliff falls to 13-14 on the season and 7-12 in the GPAC while Northwestern improves to 22-3 overall and 16-3 in conference play. The Chargers will be back in action Saturday as they travel across town to take on Morningside. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.