Big Second Half Propels Bucs to Win over the Champs
The Dawson Community College Buccaneers used a strong second half to roll to a 76-56 victory over the four time defending champions North Dakota State College of Science Wildcats. It was the Bucs 7th win in their past 8 games. The first half was a defensive battle that went back and forth. Noble Cooper got the scoring going for the Wildcats with a bucket on their first possession. Devin Collins answered back with a basket on an assist from Marcus Stephens. After Jordan Polynice scored for NDSCS, Collins netted 1-2 from the free throw line. Both teams went scoreless for the next two minutes until Mohamed Kone scored from long range to give the visitors a 7-3 lead. That four point margin was the largest of the half for either team. The teams fought back and forth with 8 ties and 5 lead changes in the opening half. In the closing minutes of the half, Oman Oman scored on a drive to again give NDSCS a four point lead at 28-24. Dawson held them scoreless in the final minute as they scored the final six points to take the lead at the halfway point. Kolten Hitt made two free throws and then Stephens scored the final two baskets, including one at the buzzer to regain the lead and give them momentum going into the break. Both teams had 13 turnovers in the first half. NDSCS outrebounded Dawson 20-15, but Dawson outscored them at the free throw line by four points. Stephens led the way with eight points and Gare Ewafada led the Wildcats with seven points. Both teams shot a low percentage from the field.
NDSCS’s Noble Cooper started the second half the same way as the first, with a basket, but those were the only two baskets their second leading scorer made all night. The Bucs also started the same way as the first, with a Collins basket inside on an assist by Stephens. He was fouled on the play and converted the free throw to give Dawson a three point lead. Collins scored again on the next possession and Polynice responded on the other end. With Dawson leading 38-34, the Bucs went on a 15-0 run over the next five minutes. They held the visitors to four points in the first eleven minutes of the second half. The run was sparked by five points from Kayden Hitt and five points from twin brother Kolten Hitt as well as five points from Camron Dunfee. The closest the Wildcats would get the rest of the way was 16 points. Dawson built up a 25 point lead with 1:30 remaining and held on for the twenty point victory.
Dawson shot a blistering 59% in the second half, including 50% from the 3-point line while holding the visitors to 34% from the field and 21% from the 3-point line. They also outrebounded NDSCS by nine. The Bucs forced 21 turnovers in the game and scored 22 points off those turnovers. Eleven players got in the scoring column and ten made it into the rebounding column. Four Dawson players reached double figures in a balanced effort. The Bucs were led in scoring by the Hitt twins, Kayden Hitt scored 14 points while his brother Kolten Hitt had 13 points. Cam’ron Dunfee chipped in with 11 points and Marcus Stephens had 10 points to go along with 7 assists. NDSCS came in averaging 83 points per game but DCC held them to 56 points on 35% shooting. Duoth Gach had 14 points to the lead the Wildcats and Jordan Polynice backed him up with 11 points.
Dawson Coach Joe Peterson was pleased, “I thought our defense was outstanding tonight. We held them 27 points below their scoring average and held their field goal percentage to 15% lower than they are averaging. It took a while for our offense to get clicking, but our defense kept us in the game and we eventually started getting some shots to fall. The Hitt twins really keyed our second half run. Our performance tonight showed us what we are capable of.” Peterson also added, “Even though our students aren’t back on campus, we had a great crowd. That really gave our guys a lift and inspired them. We are thankful for how well our community supports us!”
The win moves the Bucs to 11-8 on the season and a 2-1 conference record while NDSCS drops to 15-4 on the season and 1-2 in conference play. Dawson will travel to Bottineau for a Monday night match-up before coming home to play Williston on Thursday, January 24th.