Offense was difficult to come by Wednesday night in the Bultman Center as the 11th-ranked Red Raider men defeated ninth-ranked Morningside 66-57. After two losses in a row, the Raiders found themselves back in the win column. It was a key win for Northwestern as they moved one game behind Morningside in the GPAC standings and improved their record to 18-4 overall with an 8-4 record in conference play.
Both teams were cold out of the gate as the first basket of the game came from Spencer Pauley nearly four minutes into the game. NW only gave up the lead once early in the first half, as they took a 31-23 lead into halftime. In addition to their strong defense, the Raiders were more consistent on offense in the second half as they stretched their lead to 14 with 6:45 left in the game. Rebounding proved to be a factor as NW outrebounded Morningside 45-32, including nine offensive rebounds.
Senior Nathan Wedel led the Raiders with a double-double as he scored a game high 28 points and secured 11 rebounds. Wedel and the Raider defense played well, holding one of the top-shooting teams in the NAIA to just 34%. NW held the Mustangs to 57, which is 30 points less than their season average. Trey Brown led Morningside in scoring with 10 points.
NW split the season series with Morningside as the Mustangs won the first matchup 86-71 in Sioux City. The next matchup for NW sends the Red Raiders to take on Dordt (11-13) next Wednesday in Sioux Center. The first matchup was heated, as NW needed overtime to defeat the Defenders with a score of 116-111.
With six games remaining in the season, the Raiders are in third place in the GPAC standings, behind Briar Cliff and Morningside. NW has a chance to make a statement heading into the GPAC Tournament, and Wednesday’s win against a top-10 opponent could launch them into a strong finish.