FOREST CITY | An onslaught of 3-pointers ended up sinking the Warriors quest for a perfect conference season.
Visiting Viterbo hit nine first-half 3-pointers and 13 total on the night, giving them just enough of a margin to upset the first-place Waldorf men’s basketball team, 73-67, in North Star Athletic Association action Saturday at the Hanson Fieldhouse.
“We didn’t have energy to start the game and Viterbo made us pay,” Waldorf head coach Nigel Jenkins said.
“We had way too many missed assignments that led to wide open 3s, and you can’t do that against them,” Jenkins added.
A trio of triples for Viterbo early put the Warriors (7-8 overall, 3-1 NSAA) in a 13-3 hole, but Waldorf’s bench rose to the challenge after called on by Coach Jenkins.
A Leland March triple for the hosts sparked the comeback, a charge capped by a Joseph Glover layup that tied it, 21-21.
“Our bench did a great job of picking us up and getting us back in the game,” Waldorf’s coach said as the Warrior bench accounted for 24 of the team’s 37 first-half points.
All tied up, it turned into a fight for the next 30 minutes, right down to the wire.
The V-Hawks (8-7, 1-3) continued to live by the 3-ball, grabbing a 35-27 lead on a Ethan Haberman triple, but the Warriors fought like warriors, tying it 37-37 on two Brian Smith free throws before settling for a 39-37 deficit at halftime.
In the second half, a Brady Kuchinka 3-pointer gave the hosts a 44-43 lead, but the V-Hawks answered with another 3, and would not trail again.
Not that the Warriors didn’t fight to get back on top, closing to 66-64 down with 4 minutes left on a Falmata Tula bucket, and trailing just 70-67 in the final minute after a Tula 3.
But the comeback came up short as the Warriors suffered their first NSAA setback and slipped into a three-way tie for the league lead with Mayville State and Dickinson State.
Tula led the way with 21 points on the night, while March had 12 points off the bench for the Warriors.
On Thursday, the Waldorf men’s basketball team nearly doubled up host Luther College in rebounds, and dominated the offensive glass 21-2, all of which led to just enough shots on the night for the Warriors to secure a 76-75 win in overtime in a non-conference road battle.
“That was a great game to be a part of,” Waldorf head coach Nigel Jenkins said. “Luther knocked down open shots, but our guys played with poise and that poise gave us a chance to win late.”
The NCAA Division III Norse did a fantastic job shooting, hitting 13-of-25 3-pointers and shot 26-of-59 from the field.
Not leaving many boards for the Warriors to grab at times, yet they still cleaned up on the glass with a 55-30 edge overall, and Waldorf’s 21-2 advantage on the offensive end led to a 20-4 difference in second-chance points.
Those second-chance points helped as a Kaden Verdin offensive board led to a Falmata Tula bucket and a 63-58 lead late, and after the hosts grabbed a 66-65 edge, another Verdin offensive rebound led to the game-tying free throw that helped the Warriors into overtime.
One more Verdin offensive board in overtime helped the Warriors snap a 71-all tie, as Brady Kuchinka cashed in with the second-chance bucket, then a Kuchinka steal led to a free throw that gave Waldorf a lead it never relinquished.
A final Verdin bucket made it 76-73 in the final minute, then Waldorf came up with a defensive stop to secure the overtime victory.
“In OT, we did a great job of executing on offense, and our defense was solid enough to win,” Jenkins said.
“We have to continue to dominate the boards the way we did tonight,” Waldorf’s coach added, looking ahead to games Saturday and Sunday when the Warriors host North Star Athletic Association foes Viterbo and Bellevue, respectively, at 5 p.m. each day.
“Viterbo is a tough team and every game we have with them is a battle,” Jenkins said. “We have to find a way to defend home court.”
Verdin and Iduwe Osahen each turned in double-doubles on Friday to lead Waldorf to the win. Verdin – who now needs 83 rebounds to become the Warriors all-time leader in boards and 157 points to break 1,000 in his career - had 18 points and 15 rebounds. Osahen added 14 points and 11 boards, while Tula tossed in 15 points for Waldorf, and Brian Smith scored 11 in the win.