Wednesday’s game between Dordt and Northwestern provided some clarity in the mix of a crowded GPAC postseason race. Coming into the matchup, both teams were tied for fifth place in the conference. NW jumped ahead of the Defenders with an 89-80 win in Sioux Center. The Red Raider men are now 14-9 overall, 8-6 in the GPAC, and Dordt fell to 15-9, 7-7 in the conference. NW never let go of the lead, staying in control throughout the contest. NW is looking to finish the season on a high note, as they have won six of their last seven games.
The Raiders used sharp shooting to earn their second win against the Defenders, shooting 54% from the field, including 14 three-pointers on the night. NW sophomore Isaac Heyer scored eight points within the game’s first five minutes. His scoring provided an early spark that pushed the lead to 24-7 with 12:54 in the first half. The 17-point lead, which was the largest of the game, was capped off by a sophomore Jay Small three-pointer. Dordt fought back to cut their deficit to only three after a free throw from Ben Gesink, but they were never able to catch the Raiders in yet another competitive game between the two rivals.
NW was led in scoring with a career-high 20 points from Heyer, who finished with 10 rebounds to complement a strong scoring night. The Raiders used a balanced scoring effort as senior Steven Kragt finished with 19 points and sophomore Trent Hilbrands with 18. Zach Bussard and Chad Barkema had the highest scoring totals for Dordt, scoring 19 and 17, respectively. The Red Raiders finished with a 55% mark on three pointers, with Dordt shooting 33% from beyond the arc.
Next up for the Raiders are the Doane Tigers, who are 6-17 on the season, and 3-12 in the GPAC. NW won 80-70 in the first matchup between the schools in Orange City. The next opportunity to see the Raider men at home will be on Feb. 2 against Concordia. With four more wins, NW will earn an automatic bid to the NAIA Division II National Tournament in Sioux Falls, SD.