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Saints hold off Warriors behind hot start

waldorf-warriors-outline_1By Aaron Schneider

ABERDEEN, S.D. – Presentation College used hot first-half shooting and survived a surging comeback by the Waldorf College men’s basketball team to pull out a 96-91 victory during Friday’s North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) matchup.

The Saints (8-7, 1-3) shot lights out in the opening half, sinking 22-of-31 (71 percent) attempts from the field and 7-of-12 (58.3 percent) shots from 3-point range to build a 58-38 halftime advantage.

“It’s tough to a slow a team down that gets going like that,” Waldorf College Jenkins said. “We dug ourselves way too big of a hole.”

Presentation College is currently averaging 96.2 points a game, which ranks second among National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division II teams. The big first half by the Saints forced the Warriors (11-7, 4-5) to claw their way back.

“We can’t let a team with the scoring power that Presentation has put up 58 points in the first half,” Jenkins said.

Presentation cooled off in the second half, making 11-of-31 (35.5 percent) shots from the floor to finish the night 33-of-62 (53.2 percent) from the field. The Saints hit 9-of-19 (47.4 percent) shots from behind the arc during the course of the game.

Waldorf drilled 18-of-31 (58.1 percent) attempts from the floor during the second half and gained an 83-82 lead with 3 minutes, 41 seconds remaining in the game.  For the game, the Warriors knocked down 31-of-59 (52.5 percent) shots from the floor and 4-of-14 (28.6 percent) attempts from 3-point land.

“In the second half, our defense showed up,” Jenkins said. “All of the sudden, we got stops and easy buckets in transition. We just kept chipping away at it and the next thing you know, we took the lead. We just couldn’t quite close it out.”

Waldorf’s Erik Brewer scored a career-high 30 points. The 6-foot-6 senior forward from Las Vegas sank 11-of-15 (73.3 percent) shots from the floor and pulled down a team-high six rebounds.

Senior Tyler Parrish never left the court and provided 20 points for the Warriors.

Freshmen Isaiah Curry and Devon Collins each posted career-highs as Curry notched 15 points and Collins tallied 12 points. Curry grabbed five rebounds while Collins added four boards, three steals and blocked two shots.

“I like the production we got from our freshmen,” Jenkins said. “I’ve kind of been waiting for them to bring this type of game to the table. They did well, especially on the defensive end with defending and rebounding the basketball.”

Waldorf sophomore Kaden Verdin, juniors Michael Morgan and Pierre Roddy scored four points apiece. Sophomore Kaimen Slay rounded out the scoring effort with two points.

The Warriors were without their second-leading scorer June Prowell, who sat out due to violating team rules.

Donnell Minton led Presentation with a game-high 37 points. Minton, who torched the Warriors with 28 first-half points, converted 14-of-24 (58.3 percent) attempts from the field and sank 6-of-9 (66.7 percent) shots from downtown.

“They got going in the first half,” Jenkins said. “Minton had a great half, didn’t really miss a whole lot and made some tough, contested shots.”

Frank Cimino poured in 19 points for the Saints, starting strong with 10 first-half points. Tre Erby provided 16 points while Calvin Carr added 12 points.

Despite shooting 13-of-28 (46.4 percent) from the floor in the first half, Waldorf struggled to get its offense firing on all cylinders due to 13 turnovers.

“We were absolutely terrible in the first half,” Jenkins said.

The Saints turned the ball over 21 times throughout the contest as the Warriors outscored Presentation by a 22-13 margin in points off turnovers. Waldorf only turned the ball over three times in the second half for a total of 16 turnovers on the night.

The Warriors found the free-throw line 34 times and converted 25 (73.5 percent) of their foul shots. Presentation sank 21-of-27 (77.8 percent) shots from the charity stripe.

The Saints won the rebounding battle, claiming a 31-26 advantage off the glass.

Presentation wasted no time on getting its offense to click, opening the game with 10 unanswered points and 17:15 remaining in the first half. The Warriors trimmed the deficit to six points as they trailed 38-32 with 5:07 left in the half. Pulling away for their biggest lead of the half, the Saints owned a 20-point halftime advantage.

Presentation’s largest lead was 25 points as the Saints held a 63-38 advantage with 18:47 remaining in the game. The Saints’ lead was still 23 points with 13:45 left in the game, but Waldorf went on a 33-9 run during the next 10:04 to give the Warriors an 83-82 lead with 3:41 remaining.

Following Waldorf’s first advantage of the game, the Saints responded by scoring the next six points to take an 88-83 lead with 2:09 to play. Collins and Curry each tabbed three points to give Waldorf an 89-88 lead with 47 seconds left. Minton delivered a go-ahead bucket put Presentation in front 90-89 with 26 seconds remaining. Cimino came up with a steal on Waldorf’s next possession, forcing the Warriors to foul down the stretch.

The Warriors continue NSAA play as they take on Bellevue University (16-7, 4-1) next Friday for a 7:30 p.m. matchup in Bellevue, Neb. Waldorf then faces Grace University (6-11) for a non-conference matchup in Omaha, Nebraska at 5 p.m.

“Bellevue’s always tough,” Jenkins said. “Ever since we started playing each other, it’s been a very good rivalry going back and forth with those guys. It’s a tough place to play.”

Bellevue is ranked No. 18 in the latest NAIA Division II poll. The Warriors took both regular-season meetings from the Bruins last season when both teams completed their final year in the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference (MCAC). Waldorf knows it needs to put together a stronger start against the Bellevue than it did in Friday’s loss to the Saints.

“There’s no way that we can let them put up that many points in the first half and expect to win because they’re not going to let up,” Jenkins said. “It’s going to be a very intense game and it could be very physical game. We’ve got get to work on Monday to be ready for it.”