Junior guard Jamiel Strickland during Midnight Madness. (Amanda Gosline/MJ)
Junior guard Jamiel Strickland during Midnight Madness. (Amanda Gosline/MJ)

By DAN JENKINS, Staff Reporter

Despite fighting to the bitter end, a University of Michigan-Dearborn Wolverines rally fell short against the University of St. Francis Fighting Saints, as the team lost 58-49 in the home opener.

Junior Jamiel Strickland hit a three-point shot with just over a minute to play to cut the deficit to 52-49. But the Saints would finish the game outscoring UM-Dearborn 23-12, including six free throws in the final minute to seal the game.

Strickland, who finished with a team-high 13 points and four steals, said that in spite of the loss, the young Wolverines took the game as a chance to develop together.

“Everything is all about learning at this point,” Strickland said. “It shows that we’re growing a lot from last year; it shows our growth and how our seniors can play. I think it will really help us out toward the middle and end of the year.”

The Wolverines got off to a slow start, being held scoreless for the first six minutes of the first half, leading to a 10-0 Saints advantage. A solid second half, assistant head coach Ron Kochan said, helped the Wolverines have a chance in the final moments.

“In the last few minutes we just wanted to get our best possible shot,” Kochan said. “We were in the double bonus, so we wanted to keep attacking the basket.”

The team kept pace with the NAIA Division-I Saints in almost every statistical category, with the exception of shooting percentage, finishing 29.2 percent from the field.

Junior Kahlil Beidoun finished with a game-high nine rebounds.

Coach John Mackson brought three true freshman off the bench, including 6-foot-6 forward Gage Throgmorton, who connected on a three-pointer and tallied five rebounds.

“Right now with all of the new guys and the youth, we’re just trying to get better each game,” Kochan said. “Each game we’ve got a little bit better and competed for a longer period of time.”

The Wolverines took their first lead of the game, 37-35 with 9:01 remaining in the second half, after senior A.J. Dombrowski knocked down two free throws.

“We’re going to approach our next game as a business trip and hopefully we’re going to go out and compete for 40 minutes,” Kochan concluded.

The Wolverines travel to Calihan Hall on Monday to take on the NCAA Division I University of Detroit Mercy Titans at 7:00 p.m. The team will return home on Nov. 18 to compete against Great Lakes Christian College (Lansing, MI).