INNER GROVE HEIGHTS, Mn. The Bay Norse Men's Basketball team (13-6) would see a large lead evaporate late, but would hold off the #16 ranked Dakota County Technical College Blue Knights (13-4) by a final score of 83-79.
The Norse would hold a normally potent Blue Knight offense to just 23 points in the first half. Foul trouble would hinder the DCTC attack, but the defensive game plan would be effective early. The home team would connect on just 27.5% of their shots in the first half, including going one of 19 from behind the three-point line. Meanwhile the Norse would hit four of nine from behind the arc on their way to a 39-23 halftime lead.
Bay College would come out of the locker room hot to start the second half. A 15-4 run would put them up by 26 points early in the half. The Blue Knights would respond however, and start to cut away that lead. Dakota County would make adjustments and shoot 46.5% in the second half, hit on five of 15 from three-point, and get to the free throw line 17 times, converting 11 of those opportunities. Bay would shoot 57.7% during that same timeframe, but end up clinging to a three point lead late in the game. Marcus McKenney (SO, Menominee, MI) would hit a key free throw with time winding down to keep it a multiple possession game, and the Norse would come away with a four point victory.
The Norse would overcome 27 turnovers in the matchup. Bay would win the rebounding battle, securing 55 of them, while Dakota County would gather 43 rebounds. Foul trouble plagued both teams, as the Blue Knights would have two players foul out, while the Norse would lose Kobi Barnes (SO, Milwaukee, WI) late in the game.
The Blue Knights were ranked #16 in the latest NJCAA Division 2 poll released on January 8.
"I am very proud of our effort," said Head Men's Basketball Coach Matt Johnson. "Especially on the defensive end. We executed our game plan very well. I'm very proud of the guys, it was a great team win."
The Norse were led by McKenney who would score 21 points and deal out eight assists. Alfonzo Fields (SO, Milwaukee, WI) ended his night with 18 points, seven rebounds, three steals, and three assists. Barnes recorded a double-double, scoring 14 points while grabbing 11 rebounds. Tyler Willette (SO, Escanaba, MI) added 13 points and five rebounds, while Ryan Arndt would score 12 points and have four assists.
The Blue Knights would be led by Dashawn Walker (FR, Harkers Heights, TX) who scored 23 points and grabbed five rebounds before fouling out. Cody Sticha (SO, St. Paul, MN) would score 17 points, while Amitri Collins-Westlund (FR, St. Paul, MN) would end his night with 15 points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Jerimiah Coddon (SO, Woodbury, MN) scored 12 points and grabbed ten rebounds.
The Norse will be on the road Wednesday as they take on U.P. rivals Gogebic Community College. That game will tip at 8 PM.