WAYNE — After a nearly perfect game Friday night, the Wayne State men dug an early hole and battled back the entire game before falling 82-74 to Upper Iowa here at Rice Auditorium on the campus of Wayne State College.
The Wildcats drilled the Peacocks on Friday night but in true Northern States Intercollegiate Conference action, Upper Iowa proved too much for WSC on Saturday afternoon.
“We have some younger guys who haven’t quite figured out what it takes to win consistently in this league,” Wayne State coach Jeff Kaminsky said. “We have a nice mix of players who have been here and some young kids — we need to get consistent night in and night out.”
Wayne State had a slow start Saturday afternoon and couldn’t come all the way back to notch the win after going 4-1 in its first five conference games.
“We have some things to figure out from here on out,” Kaminsky said. “I like our team, but we need to have some urgency and take care of business.”
The slow start proved to be too much for the Wildcats.
Wayne State shot just 22% from the field in the opening 20 minutes as it fell behind by 20 points with just under 10 minutes left in the first half.
“We just can’t do that,” Kaminsky said. “We have five freshmen playing a lot, and they need to figure that out. We have enough experienced guys to take care of that, but we didn’t do that here this afternoon.”
After falling behind by 20 in the first half, the Wildcats made it all the way back in the final 20 minutes to tie the score.
A run of 13 points in the opening 1:20 of the second half got the Wildcats back in the game, but they couldn’t get over the hump to take a lead.
With 5:54 left in the first, WSC trailed 36-16 before nibbling away at the Peacock advantage.
“I like the way we came back,” Kaminsky said. “We just needed to do it earlier and continue to do it to come away with the win.”
The Wildcats got back to within five with 18:57 left in the game after a Henry Penner 3-pointer and trimmed the deficit to four with 15:02 left when freshman Alec Millender canned another long ball to make it 47-43.
The Upper Iowa lead grew back to double digits, but Wayne State mounted another comeback and tied the score at 68 when Justin Eagins made a 3-pointer with 3:28 left.
The Peacocks responded, however, and eventually won by the eight-point final score after falling 99-71 on Friday night.
“I kind of like playing teams back-to-back over the weekend but we played so well Friday, it was hard to match that on Saturday,” Kaminsky said. “We’ll have to figure out how to play every night. You have to in this conference, and we will.”
Under the circumstances of the season, Kaminsky knows just how fortunate his team is to even play a game.
“This is a different time we are playing in,” Kaminsky said. “Games have been canceled in the league so we know we are extremely fortunate to get games in when we can.”
Upper Iowa 40 42 — 82
WSC 29 45 — 74
UPPER IOWA (3-5, 1-3): Dylan Jones 2-13 1-1 5; Lucas Duax 8-14 3-3 23; Jareese Williams 4-8 1-1 11; Jake Hilmer 3-9 2-2 8; Joe Smoldt 9-14 6-6 29; Max Duax 1-1 0-0 2; Jackson Joens 1-5 0-0 2; Jackson Foley 0-0 2-2 2.
WAYNE STATE COLLEGE (4-4,4-2): Jordan Janssen 4-7 4-6 12; Henry Penner 3-7 0-0 7; Alec Millender 5-10 0-0 13; Jay Saunders 2-6 0-0 5; Nate Mohr 5-13 0-0 13; Ben Dentlinger 3-5 0-0 6; Justin Eagins 4-7 0-0 11; Cody McCullough 1-3 1-2 3; Nate Thayer 2-4 0-0 4.