ESCANABA, MI – The Bay College Norse (13-7) dropped a tight contest with Region 13 rival Dakota County Technical College (12-8). A controversial call and missed opportunities late allowed the Blue Knights to steal an 82-81 victory on the road.
Bay took the first advantage, knocking down three-pointers in three of their first four possessions. The 9-0 lead wouldn't last long, as the Blue Knights closed the gap. The Norse would not surrender the lead until eight minutes remaining in the half. After an exchange of baskets, Dakota County hit a three to put them up 29-26 with six minutes remaining in the half. Both teams suffered a scoring drought that lasted over two minutes of game time. Unfortunately for the Norse, they would not shake themselves out of it, scoring just four points the rest of the half, all on free throws. The Blue Knights held a six-point lead at intermission.
Any offensive struggles either team had early on were long forgotten in the second half. Both teams came out firing on all cylinders. The game took on the feel of a heavyweight bout, as the teams traded blow after blow, neither one willing to back down. The Blue Knights built their biggest lead of the day around a shroud of controversy. With the score standing at 58-53, and 11:39 showing on the game clock, the Norse were charged with a flagrant foul. After a long delay, and much debate, the officials erroneously awarded Dakota County four free throws. The Blue Kights' Deshawn Walker (SO, Harkers Heights, TX) sank all four attempts.
"So, I had my Jim Joyce moment tonight," said lead official Nick Nolde after the game. The flagrant 1 should have been two shots only, and then the ball (not the additional bonus free throws). I was getting hung up on if there were separate fouls (one common and on flagrant/technical) you would enforce both. I can only say sorry as that ended up being a big factor in the game. There is no excuse to not know the rules."
Facing their biggest deficit, and the deflating four-point possession that had just occurred, the Norse were able to regroup and fight back into the game. A Ryan Robinette (SO, Escanaba, MI) three-pointer with just over nine minutes to play pulled the Norse to within three. Minutes later Matt Wagner (FR, Marinette, WI) knocked down a shot from behind the three-point lead, making the score 68-67 in favor of DCTC. Every run the Norse made, the Blue Knights had an answer for, and the game would go into the final minutes with the road team clinging to a slim lead.
Bay College would finally reclaim the lead with 2:45 remaining. Chris Dobessi (FR, Detroit, MI) sunk two free throws, making the score 80-78. Dakota County answered on the very next possession, tying the game. Bay missed the mark on their trip down the floor, and the Blue Knights took advantage, finishing at the rim with just over a minute to play, claiming an 82-80 lead. A foul sent the Norse to the line with a chance tie the game, but they could only convert one of two, and trailed by one. With time running out, Bay forced a turnover, allowing them one more shot to take the game. Robinette led the play, pushing his dribble to his left, and just inside the top of the key. He found Dobessi on the left wing, who had a look at a three-point shot. The buzzer rang as the shot hit the rim just short of its mark, allowing the Blue Knights to steal the one-point victory.
The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Norse, as well as ending a four-game skid for Dakota County.
Both teams shot at a torrid pace in the second half. Dakota County hit 51.6% of their shots during that time, while the Norse connected on 64.0% of their attempts from the field. Bay College had the advantage in rebounds for the game, 34-24, and also got to the charity stripe 26 times, converting 20 of their attempts.
Dakota County Techincal College was led by Walker, who scored 22 points, grabbed eight rebounds, had seven assists, three steals, and two blocks. Amitri Collins-Westlund (SO, St. Paul, MN) added 19 points, while Daevonte Munson (SO, Roseville, MN) contributed 18 points and five rebounds. All of Munson's points came in the second half.
The Norse got twenty points and four assists from Wagner. Christian Alexander (SO, Dorset, UK) added 18 points and eight rebounds. Dobessi finished his day with 15 points and six rebounds, while Robinette tallied 12 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.
The Norse loss opens the door for all teams to grab the top seed of Eastern Sub-Regional Tournament. Three teams are a part of the sub-region, Dakota County, Bay College, and Gogebic Community College. A season sweep of DCTC would have put Bay College in control of their destiny, as they have already beaten Gogebic one time, and could have swept Gogebic to earn the top seed outright. The split with the Blue Knights, along with the previous win over Gogebic, puts the Norse at 2-1 in sub-region play. They will face Gogebic in Ironwood on February 12. Gogebic and Dakota County have yet to face each other. They meet in Minneapolis on January 25 and in Ironwood on February 8. The team with the best record of the three earns a bye in the first round of the playoffs, and the right to host the Sub-Region Final. The two seed will host the three seed in the first playoff game. Any ties are broken with a coin flip.
Bay is in action on Sunday evening, as both the men and the women are on the road to face Lake Superior State's JV teams. The women will tip at 5 pm, and the men will follow at approximately 7 pm.