By: DAN JENKINS, WOLVES MEN’S BASKETBALL BEAT REPORTER
The parents of the UM-D Men’s basketball team got a good reception Saturday afternoon as the Wolves went out and beat Aquinas, 77-72 at the UM-D Fieldhouse. The Wolves celebrated Parent’s Night by getting their third win in their last five games.
Aquinas (9-12 overall, 7-6 WHAC) fought its way back from a 12-point deficit to pull within one about halfway through the second half, but UM-D succeeded where they have historically failed. The Wolves never gave up the lead or even let Aquinas tie the score.
The Wolves used good interior defense and got timely offensive rebounds from both members of their starting backcourt, Jordan Konior and Julius Porter, in the last two minutes to help seal the victory.
UM-D (6-15, 4-9) held off a strong Aquinas comeback attempt with consistent play off the bench from guard Jamiel Strickland, who finished the game with 18 points, eight of which came in the second half. Strickland was coming off a great performance against Concordia, where he scored 21 points. He is second on the team in scoring with 9.7 points per game, primarily coming off the bench.
“Obviously, Jamiel has always had the green light,” said Wolves’ head coach John Mackson. “He had a great week in practice. Monday and Tuesday were probably his two best practices of the year, and it translated on the court.”
The Wolves offense was on display as the team tied a season-high 77 points, led by 20 from sophomore forward Khalil Beidoun who is averaging 10.4 points per game over his last five games.
The game was tight in the first half with the teams fighting back and forth for control. UM-D eventually pulled away behind strong full-court defense, forcing a 10-second violation and a backcourt violation in the final minutes before halftime. The Wolves have now led at halftime in five consecutive games, translating into three wins.
Coach Mackson expressed the importance of beating Aquinas before Saturday’s game. “This game is really a must win. We have to defend our home court and beat the teams ahead of us if we have any chance of making the tournament.”
UM-D now sits three games outside of the final playoff spot in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference with nine games remaining in the season. Six of the team’s remaining games are against teams ahead of the Wolves in the WHAC standings.
The Wolves will look to avenge an early conference loss on Wednesday night against Indiana Tech at 7:30pm in the Fieldhouse. Wednesday night will be High School night, any high school player accompanied by their coach and a teammate will receive free admission.