This weekend the Trojans men’s team looked to keep their season alive in the AII qualifying tournament. The Trojans recorded their first back-to-back winning seasons in 20 years. The Trojans needed to win their first round game to make it to the national tournament. In the first round they looked to take on their old DAC foe, against Valley City. This would be the first meeting between Valley City and DSU since last year. The students had a great turn out, bringing back the white out to help cheer the Trojans to victory.
Right out of the gate the Trojans took an early nine-point lead. Then about eight minutes until the half they extended their lead to 27-15. They kept this double-digit lead into halftime with a score of 38-36.
The Trojans led the whole second half until a cold streak at towards the end when VCSU climbed back in the game only four points down. But the Trojans slammed the door with a 5-0 run to seal a first round victory and a spot in the national tournament. Dakota State showed a sense of urgency that I have not seen all season. The hustle plays really made the difference for the Trojans. DSU played some stingy defense and kept the Vikings shooting from the perimeter. The Vikings did hit 12 three pointers and shot 50 percent from the arc, but the Trojans out scored them 40-18 in the paint.
Donald “Ducky” Stewart had a great game with 24 points and shot 90 percent from the field. Jesse Bean dropped 19 points for the Trojans. Keith Biggers had a dominating performance in the paint, posting a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Cameron Krump also recorded seven rebounds.
“We expected to win and the harder we work in practice the easier the games going to be,” said Stewart.
The following day the Trojans took on the Jamestown Jimmies in the championship game of the AII tournament. The Jimmies have beaten the Trojans two times earlier in the season. Dakota State was looking for there second game in a row upsetting a nationally ranked team.
The first half was a string of runs by both teams battling back and forth. The Trojans finally pulled away with a 9-2 run gaining the biggest lead of the first half with a 10 points lead. Jamestown trimmed it down to one point with about two minutes left. But DSU came right back to grab a 42-34 lead at halftime.
The Trojans controlled the second half until Jamestown jumped back into the game, cutting the lead to one point. DSU ended the game with a 17-9 run to grab the first ever AII Conference Championship.
Spencer Adams had 21 points, six boards and four assists. Keith Biggers was two rebounds short of two double doubles in a row with 16 points and eight rebounds. Jesse Bean added 15 points and four assists.
The NAIA Division II National Tournament will be held March 7-13 in Point Lookout, Missouri. The national tournament bracket will be announced later on this week.