Briar Cliff tops Oregon Tech in NAIA tournament opener - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

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Briar Cliff tops Oregon Tech in NAIA tournament opener

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Jay Wolfe (#5) had 23 points in Briar Cliff's win over Oregon Tech on Wednesday. Jay Wolfe (#5) had 23 points in Briar Cliff's win over Oregon Tech on Wednesday.
SIOUX FALLS, SD (KTIV) -

The Briar Cliff men's basketball team opened play at the 2018 NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championships in Sioux Falls, South Dakota Wednesday at the Sanford Pentagon. The third-seeded Chargers beat sixth-seeded Oregon Tech 80-70. The Cliff now advances to the Sweet 16 and will face St. Thomas (Florida) on Friday morning with another 10:15 a.m. tipoff. The Chargers improved to 25-7 overall with the win, while the Owls end their season with a record of 22-11.

With the game tied at 67-67, Briar Cliff closed on a 13-3 run. The game was tightly contested throughout with 14 lead changes and seven ties. The Chargers trailed at halftime 31-28 but outscored the Owls 52-39 in the second half. The two teams shot pretty evenly with Briar Cliff making 37.5 percent from the field, 26.1 percent from long range and 86.5 percent from the free throw line, compared to Oregon Tech shooting 41.8 percent from the field, 22.2 percent from beyond the arc and 71.4 percent from the stripe.

One of the biggest differences was Briar Cliff's success at the free throw line. The Chargers march to the stripe 37 times, making 32 freebies. The Owls also shot well from the line but only made 14 trips with 10 makes. Briar Cliff also took care of the ball with only eight turnovers and forced Oregon Tech into 17 giveaways.

"I thought our guys didn't an excellent job of giving it everything they had. When the execution wasn't there the effort was, especially to try and get stops on the defensive end of the floor," commented Briar Cliff Head Coach Mark Svagera. "Friday is going to be a tough test. Saint Thomas is really good as they have been in the top 10 most of the season. They are big and physical and play different than most of the teams we see in the GPAC. They run a zone defense a lot of the time so that could present some challenges when we are so used to playing against man-to-man. The day off in between games is going to be for our guys, they are hungry right now and they will come out ready to go."

Four Chargers scored in double figures in the game with Wolfe leading the pack with 23 points. He was a perfect 11-11 from the free throw line and also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Erich Erdman was second in scoring with 16 points and Jackson Lamb added 14 points. Blake Wiltgen was also in double-digits with 11 points.

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