After playing their best game of the season Friday, the Wayne State men’s basketball team had to settle for a split after a hot-shooting effort by Upper Iowa at Rice Auditorium.
On Friday night, Wayne State jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never trailed as the Wildcats rolled to a 99-71 win over the Peacocks.
The Wildcats took a quick 10-0 lead in the opening 2:20 of the contest thanks to jumpers from Nate Mohr and Jordan Janssen along with 3-pointers from Alec Millender and Jay Saunders.
Upper Iowa battled back and forged a 19-19 tie at the 10:43 mark of the half, but Wayne State took the lead for good on baskets from Cody McCullough and Janssen and never trailed the rest of the night.
Wayne State maintained a lead of 20 or more points for a majority of the second half and used 57 percent shooting in the second half (20-of-35) to pull away for the easy win.
Junior forward Jordan Janssen paced Wayne State with his 30th career double-double of 23 points and 16 rebounds, making 10-of-15 shots from the field.
Freshman guard Jay Saunders contributed 16 points followed by Mohr with 13, McCullough a season-high 12 and Alec Millender 11.
Wayne State held a commanding 54-23 edge in rebounding thanks to 16 boards from Janssen followed by McCullough with eight. Mohr handed out six of Wayne State’s 21 assists in the contest.
On Saturday, the Peacocks returned the favor, getting out to a 15-5 lead early and leading by as many as 20 on their way to an 82-74 win and a split of the weekend series at Rice Auditorium.
The Wildcats never led in the contest as the visiting Peacocks stormed out to a 15-5 lead less than four minutes into the game and built a 20-point advantage at 32-12 with 8:34 to play in the opening half.
Wayne State was still trailing 36-16 at the 5:54 mark of the half when the Wildcats made a run. A 13-0 run over the following 4:34 cut Upper Iowa’s lead to 36-29 following a Nate Mohr 3-pointer, but the Peacocks closed the half with the final four points and led 40-29 at intermission.
Wayne State opened the second half strong and cut Upper Iowa’s lead to four at 47-43 on an Alec Millender 3-pointer at the 15:02 mark, but Upper Iowa responded and took a pair of 10-point leads again and was in front 60-50 with 12:23 to play.
Wayne State was still trailing 62-53 with 10:50 remaining and came back to tie the score at 68-68 on a Justin Eagins 3-pointer with 3:26 left, but the Wildcats couldn’t get the lead and the Peacocks scored eight of the next nine points and came away with the win.
Millender and Mohr each scored 13 points for Wayne State followed by Jordan Janssen with 12 and Eagins 11.
Wayne State held a 39-32 advantage in rebounding thanks to 10 caroms from Janssen and six each by Jay Saunders and Cody McCullough. Janssen had five blocked shots for Wayne State to go with three assists.
Wayne State (4-4, 4-2 NSIC South) hits the road next weekend for NSIC South Division games at Winona State Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.
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