FOREST CITY – The Waldorf College men's basketball team used a second-half surge to shake off Central Baptist College in a 68-48 win on Friday.
"It's good that we found a way to win," Waldorf coach Nigel Jenkins said. "It shows a lot of maturity from our guys' standpoint."
The Warriors (13-12, 9-2) settled for jump shots and went 23 percent from the field on 6-of-26 shooting while falling behind 20-18 at halftime in the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference (MCAC) matchup.
"We were not very aggressive to start and it showed," Jenkins said.
Waldorf recovered from the tough start, running away from the Mustangs (10-14, 4-7) in the second half. The Warriors shot 16-of-32 (50 percent) and outscored Central Baptist 50-28 in the final 20 minutes.
"To our credit, our guys came out and played a better second half," Jenkins said. ""We just kind of changed our mentality. It was more our style."
Nelson grabbed six rebounds, blocked three shots and came away with two steals. The 6-foot-6 senior center from Neenah, Wis. shot 6-of-11 (55 percent) from the floor and converted on all seven of his trips to the free-throw line.
"Jordan kept his composure, finally got some touches down low and was able to finish," Jenkins said.
Scott, a senior guard from Fridley, Minn., collected two steals and went 7-of-15 (47 percent) from the field. He was also perfect at the charity stripe, finishing 5-of-5 while providing a lift for the Warriors.
"He brought a lot of energy in the second half," Jenkins said.
Joshua Tarver led the Mustangs with 12 points and Jalyn McBride finished with nine points.
For the game, Waldorf shot 22-of-58 (38 percent) from the field. The Warriors went 2-of-16 (13 percent) from 3-point range, but took care of business at the foul line with a 22-of-26 (85-percent) effort.
Waldorf limited Central Baptist to a 28-percent shooting night. The Mustangs went 14-of-50 from the floor and 2-of-14 (14 percent) from the perimeter as the Warriors clamped down on the defensive end.
"We try to make that our calling card to make sure we defend and rebound," said Jenkins, whose team controlled the boards with a 43-30 advantage.
Central Baptist made 74 percent of its free-throw attempts, going 18-of-25.
Sophomore Michael Morgan scored five points for the Warriors and crashed the boards, ripping down a career-high 14 rebounds.
Waldorf freshman Kaden Verdin ended the night with four points while freshmen DJ Walton and Adev Aarons contributed three points each. Freshman Kaimen Slay and Walton dished out two assists apiece and senior Devin Graham had five rebounds.
The Warriors dominated the paint, outscoring Central Baptist 38-10. Waldorf used 15 offensive rebounds to come away with an 11-5 advantage in second-chance points.
The Mustangs committed 18 turnovers, which led to 16 points for the Warriors. Waldorf turned the ball over 17 times and Central Baptist scored seven points off turnovers.
Friday's win was the sixth straight for the Warriors, who defeated the Mustangs for the second time this season. Waldorf topped Central Baptist 72-63 on Jan. 23 at Conway, Ark.
A strong finish was enough in the end, but the Warriors know they'll need a full-out effort in Saturday's 5 p.m. showdown with College of the Ozarks (20-5, 9-2).
"We've got to be better," Jenkins said. "We've got to make sure we come back and put together a complete 40 minutes because we're going to need it."
Ozarks, ranked No. 13 in the latest National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division II poll, pulled out an 82-81 win over No. 3 Bellevue University (22-5, 8-3) on Friday at Bellevue, Neb. The Bobcats and Waldorf are now in a first-place tie atop the MCAC standings.
"We're going to have to play extremely well against them," Jenkins said. "They've got a lot of weapons and a lot of guys who can step up and produce for them."
Ozarks defeated the Warriors 74-64 on Jan. 24 at Point Lookout, Mo. Waldorf is looking to flip the script on its home court.
"At the end of the day, if we defend, rebound and take care of the basketball, we'll have a chance," Jenkins said.
The winner of Saturday's contest claims first place in the conference and will have the inside track to the MCAC regular-season title.
"It'll be a great game," Jenkins said. "The conference championship is at stake and we've got to be up for the challenge."