Nebraska Wesleyan (10-3) (6-2) snapped Hastings College’s six-game win streak on Wednesday night, by a score of 115-109. Trey Bardsley – the nation’s second leading scorer entering tonight (29 ppg.) – led the Prairie Wolves, finishing with 36 points on 6 of 10 shooting from three point range.
“He (Bardsley) is a complete player offensively. He puts a lot of pressure on your defense,” Hastings Head Coach Bill Gavers said. “But I thought early, that we did a good job of making him work.”
The Broncos needed to come out clicking offensively– considering Nebraska Wesleyan leads the country in three-point field goals made per game (15) and second in scoring offense per game (98) — and that’s exactly what they did.
The Broncos came out on a hot start, thanks to an early basket from Sophomore Drew Callaghan and two transition layups from Senior David Plain. Bardsley scored a deep three-pointer with 16:00 left in the first half, to cut the Bronco lead to one.
Hastings Junior Rich Williams, who finished with 19 points on 8 of 12 shooting, came off the bench and provided a spark, scoring two transition lay ups and a three pointer to put the Broncos up 20-13 with 12:30 left in the first half. The Prairie Wolves Travis Giesselmann scored a deep three-pointer following a timeout that put Nebraska Wesleyan up 26-24.
Williams converted yet another layup to cut the Prairie Wolves lead to one, but Bardsley made a three, followed by a layup to further his first half total and extend the Wesleyan lead. Nebraska Wesleyan led 54-48 at halftime.
The Prairie Wolves picked up right where they left off in the first half, thank to two quick scores from Giesselmann and an off balance three-pointer from Bardsley to extend the lead to 11. A Kendall Ferguson layup, followed by a Plain layup cut the lead back down to nine.
Wesleyan’s sharp shooting continued; thanks to two more three pointers from Bardsley and a three-pointer from Giesselmann. Wesleyan made yet another three pointer, which forced Hastings to call a timeout with 11:50 remaining down 19.
Despite trailing for most of the game, Hastings rallied late in the second half and got within 13 points with just over two minutes remaining. Connor Musiel, who finished with a team-high 23 points, scored on back-to-back possessions, followed by a Williams three-pointer to put the Broncos within 10.
Seniors Carson Blum and David Plain scored on back-to-back possessions and the Broncos got within seven. Musiel and Jake Hansen made back-to-back three pointers and got the margin within five, but the Broncos were too little too late. Wesleyan converted late free throws and hung on to win.
Gavers credited Wesleyan on their effort and ability to execute, but felt his team lacked things they focus on everyday.
“We talk about doing the uncommon things uncommonly well: communicating, getting down in a good stance and being urgent. I just felt our urgency level wasn’t very good,” Gavers said. “I really felt like we scored early against their press and we fell in a trap.”