CSS Men’s Basketball Captures First Two Wins

Andrew Naslund

After dropping the first three games of the year, two of which were losses by of over twenty points, The College of St. Scholastica men’s basketball team managed to pick up their first batch of wins of the season at the Merrill Thompson Tip-Off Classic at the University of Wisconsin-Superior this past weekend. The weekend began for the Saints with a matchup against the University of Wisconsin-Stout, where the guys unleashed all of their early-season frustration with a decisive 84-63 victory.

The game against UW-Stout will simply go down as the Jarod Wilken Arrival Party. The smoke alarms are likely still going off, and rumor has the UWS maintenance staff is not at all happy about what Wilken did to their nets. The freshman from Annandale finished with 25 points, making all nine of his shots, which included seven three-pointers. This performance not only set the program record for most made threes in a game without a miss, but also the CSS record for most made field goals with a perfect shooting percentage. Wilken’s astonishing performance was not only crucial for establishing his confidence early on in his Saints career, but also for helping the Saints get their first win.

“The game on Saturday felt amazing,” Wilken said. “It was really nice to finally find my shot, and getting back into the win column was huge.”

Wilken, however, was not alone in his effort. Seniors Zach Dahlman and Joe Stark both returned to the court for the first time this year, and they pitched in 12 points and six points respectively. Dahlman and Stark had been out due to injury, but they were excited to get back into action and help lead their team.

“Those first two weeks of the season when I was sitting out was really tough,” Dahlman explained. “But once I was cleared to play, I was itching to get back out there and show everyone how good our team is going to be this year.”

Brandon Newman, a consistent leader for the Saints, chipped in 13 points of his own, and Collin Anderson added 10 as well. The Saints frontcourt came up big as well, as senior Dylan Zimmerman scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds, while Connor Gray had five points and seven boards.

Overall, it was a very nice team win for the Saints. They shot 50% from the field and 45.7% from behind the arc, which included a program record 16 made three-pointers. The Saints led the Blue Devils from wire to wire, and this victory marked their first win against UW-Stout since 1998.

After returning to Duluth for a bit of sleep, the guys headed back over the bridge on Sunday afternoon to take on Luther College. Now with a record of 1-3, the Saints wanted to keep their momentum going, and that is exactly what they did, defeating Luther by a score of 92 to 70.

On Sunday, Newman, donning his classic number four jersey in honor of his high school teammate and basketball mentor whose rare ankle injury prohibited a true collegiate career, led the charge for the Saints, showcasing his all-around talents that Saints fans have grown accustom to witnessing over the past three years. The junior from Barnum filled the stat sheet as he finished with 23 points on 61.5% shooting, grabbed six rebounds, had four assists, and swiped three steals. It was clearly a great day for him personally, but Newman is not one to talk about himself.

“It felt good to get our second win of the season,” Newman said. “Collectively as a TEAM we provided energy on the defensive end that led to our offensive attack on the other end of the court. Everyone feeds off of everyone else on the team, so as long as everyone comes to play, we will be a tough team to beat.”

Against Luther, Wilken reassured everyone that he is in fact human, as he finally missed a shot on Sunday — but only one. He followed up his amazing performance on Saturday with another solid outing, ending with 11 points on three of four shooting. The Saints also benefited from an excellent game by junior guard Sam Thompson, as he added 14 points off the bench.

The seniors again added nice support, as Dahlman and Stark each had 10 points, and Zimmerman finished with four points, one block, and one steal. Gray scored six points on four shots, and Nate Weets, the starting point guard from Cloquet, Minnesota, chipped in with five points and six assists.

After a record-breaking performance on Saturday, the Saints somehow improved as a team on Sunday. They shot 52.6% from the field, and a clean 50% from three-point land. Scholastica outrebounded Luther by 10, and managed to get the ball inside early and often, scoring 42 of their points from within the paint.

The Saints will look to keep it going this week against the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, as they will try to capture their third win in a row on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Reif Gymnasium at CSS.