DENVER, Colo. – The University of Dallas men's basketball team defeated Johnson & Wales University (CO) on Sunday, 69-66. It was a gritty victory, as the Crusaders (3-8, 2-2 SCAC) won their second conference game in as many days and were able to use timely defense at the end to withstand the Wildcats' scoring runs.
Michael Wambsganss (Denver, Colo.) performed well in his hometown, as he took over the last three minutes with a steal that led to the go-ahead three-pointer. The guard registered Dallas' final eight points of the game to help him match a team-high 15 points. Logan Fruhwirth (Waynesville, Ohio) also rattled in 15 points and the top-scoring tandem on the squad combined for 25 in the second half. Jai Love (St. Louis, Mo.) garnered 10 points for his first double-digit scoring game of his career and netted eight in the second stanza, which Dallas outscored its opponent 38-29.
The Wildcats (9-5, 2-3 SCAC) started out of the second half with six of the first eight points to make it a double-digit lead at 43-33 just over a minute in. Dallas cut into the margin with a trio of three-pointers coming from Joshua Nunn (St. Louis, Mo.), Wambsganss, and Fruhwirth. This 11-2 run brought the score to 45-44, and a Wambsganss jumper gave UD its first lead since 7-5 in the opening minutes.
Johnson & Wales immediately responded by going back on top with a lead as large as six on multiple occasions.
Down 54-48, Fruhwirth got a layup and free throw on the old fashioned three-point play to cut the score in half. Love came back with a layup after two JWU free throws and then a missed three by the home team was followed by Fruhwirth getting a layup and the score to one with 7:47 remaining. Andrew Romero III, who had a game-high 26 points, would come up with a triple and two free throws to stretch the score back to six over the next minute.
Love had two more layups and then dished a dime to Fruhwirth to slash the margin to 63-61. The Wildcats recovered their own miss on the next possession, but Wambsganss grabbed his lone steal of the game and was able to find the bottom of the next with a trifecta. JWU turned the ball over on the next play and Wambsganss was able to drive through the paint for a layup to make it a three-point lead. He notched one-of-two free throws with 37 seconds to give the Crusaders their largest lead of the game.
The defense for Dallas came up with four steals in the half, with three coming in the final minutes. JWU also committed four of its seven second-half turnovers within that span – all coming in a row of possessions.
Romero III was able to force a three-point play as he was fouled and made the and-one to cut the score to 67-66. Wambsganss chimed in with two more free throws, as he finished 5-for-6 at the line. Johnson & Wales missed the game-tying attempt, as UD closed 2018 on a high note with back-to-back wins for the first time on the season.
Johnson & Wales erased an early deficit with six straight points to go up 11-7. A couple free throws by Cameran Hyde (Missouri City, Texas) ended UD's scoreless stretch at 14:28. Ian Burns (Woodbury, Minn.) would use an old fashioned three-point play to make it 13-12. His tough jumper at 13:38 was the last made field goal for Dallas until a Letrell Toussaint (Waco, Texas) put in a layup with four and a half remaining.
Dallas did make use of the free throw line after reaching the double bonus with over eight minutes left in the frame, by going 14-for-21 that half.
A pair of baskets at the line by Nunn made it 20-16 with 8:45, but the Wildcats scored seven straight as part of a 12-2 run to give them their biggest lead of the game at 14. A trey by Jontrell Herman capped the outburst, and Toussaint's layup at 4:34 started a UD counter of eight points in a row.
The Wildcats only made five three-pointers in the whole game, but Charles Young had one to take the lead back to nine. Russell used a layup and then grabbed a rebound on the Fruhwirth block to give UD the ball at the end. He split at the line to make it a 37-31 halftime score.
In that half, the Crusaders committed 10 turnovers compared to six by JWU. The hosts held a 10-6 edge on points from the miscues during that duration. Overall, it was the guests that won this category with a 20-12 advantage.
The Crusaders also made five three-pointers like JWU, but were 50 percent compared to 21.7 percent from deep. UD doubled its made free throws to its opponent with 18. Dallas was edged on the boards 38-33.
Fruhwirth has reached double figures in scoring in all four SCAC games and did so behind 6-of-8 field goal shooting. He added a pair of blocks and steals. Wambsganss finished the road trip in his home state with 37 points. Russell contributed nine points and a game-high eight rebounds, while Nunn scored nine points and matched Love with a game-high three assists.
Romero III shot 10-of-20 and added five boards for the Wildcats. Herman was the other double-digit scorer that also eclipsed 20 points on 9-of-20 shooting. The two each made a pair of treys. Herman and King Grant-Perry tied with eight boards apiece to match the highest total by individuals.
Dallas looks to carry this momentum into 2019 with a home game on January 4 versus Trinity University. First tip is slated at 6 p.m. after the women's game.