WAYNE – The Wayne State men’s basketball team won its third straight game with a 73-63 win over the Central Missouri Mules here at Rice Auditorium Friday night.
In the process, Wildcat coach, Jeff Kaminsky won his 500th career game as a head basketball coach and Wayne State improved to 3-5 on the young season.
“To me, it was more important to win this third game of the year,” Kaminsky said. “Down the road 500 will matter, tonight it just meant we beat a good team and won a game.”
After an 0-5 start to the season after a trip to California, the young Wildcats are finding their collective sea legs on the fly while replacing some key players from last year as new players learn new roles for this year’s team.
“We have moved forward in every game we have played,” Kaminsky said. “Some of our guys are stepping into roles we need them to step into before we get into conference play.”
Conference play is exactly eight days away, but the 500-win coach is liking where his team is at this early stage of the season.
“You are never going to play your best game every night and every team is going to have a dip in its performance at some point in the season,” he said. “Maybe we’ve already had ours with the 0-5 start – I just know we have done well since getting back to Nebraska.”
After a very tight 34 minutes to open the game, the Wildcats responded by pulling away from the Mules later in the second half.
“We’re all trying to learn different roles from last year,” WSC’s Nick Ferrarini said. “It’s time to take charge of this year and grow into our new roles.”
Ferrarini canned four-of nine three-pointers on his way to 20 points on the night to join Jordan Janssen for game-high honors for the Wildcats.
Janssen recorded a double-double as he grabbed 11 rebounds inside.
“We certainly need to get better,” Ferrarini said. “But we are making progress with every practice and every game – I missed a game-winning shot out in California, but I still have the confidence to take that shot again if we need it.”
He did just that when the game was in doubt in the second half.
Trailing 37-31 early in the final 20 minutes, Ferrarini made a shot in the paint to make it 37-33 with 19:25 to go.
After a Janssen defensive rebound, he came back down the court and splashed a long-ball to pull the Wildcats to within a single point.
“It was my turn tonight,” Ferrarini said. “We have a lot of guys who can score the ball – I was open in the offense and I made some shots.”
Central Missouri gave Wayne State its first loss last season and Kaminsky was proud of his team’s effort at Rice tonight.
“They (Central Missouri) are a very athletic team,” Kasminsky said. “They probably have more talent than we do but we played better as a team and held them off.”
The Mules tied it up 50-50 a little under halfway through the second half, but with 4:19 to go, Ferrarini hit another runner in the paint to make it 63-55 and the Wildcats closed out the game by the 10-point final.
“We are learning our new roles as the season progresses,” Kaminsky said. “We are also starting to figure out how to close out a gamer to win – that is going to be vitally important as we get into conference play here in a week or so.”
CM 34 29 – 63
WSC 31 42 – 73
CENTRAL MISSOURI (1-4): Dyllan Robinson 4 0-0 8; Kendale Hampton 0 1-2 1; Daniel Farris 1 1-2 3; Michael Winger 1 0-0 3; DeAndre Sorrells 6 1-1 16; Garrett Luinstra 2 0-0 5; Joshua Greer 5 0-0 10; Gaven Pinkley 3 0-0 6; Koray Gilbert 4 0-0 8; Matt Wilkinson 1 0-0 3.
WAYNE STATE COLLEGE (3-5): Jordan Janssen 4 12-17 20; Nick Ferrarini 8 0-0 20; Al’Tavius Jackson 4 0-2 9; Nate Thayer 3 1-1 7; Nate Mohr 1 2-2 5; Ben Dentlinger 4 0-1 8; Henry Penner 2 0-0 4.