MARYVILLE, Mo. — The Northwest Missouri State men's basketball team (7-0) Wednesday night extended the longest ever win streak in MIAA and program history to 45 straight with a decisive 91-56 Thanksgiving Eve victory over the University of Illinois-Springfield Prairie Stars (5-1) in front of a solid home crowd at Bearcat Arena.
The highlight of the game was a breakout performance from true freshman Wes Dreamer, who led the team in scoring and rebounding with 29 and 14, respectively.
Dreamer, out of Lincoln East High School in Alvo, Nebraska, shot 10-of-13 from the field, including 7-of-10 from three-point range. He was nearly perfect from behind the arc until late in the game when he missed two straight.
Northwest raced out to an early lead behind eight points in the first six minutes from junior Ryan Hawkins. The 6-7 forward made two three-pointers and put back two off the offensive glass to help the Bearcats to an early 17-4 lead which prompted a quick timeout from UIS first-year head coach Matt Brock.
The home team continued to get open looks from the perimeter including a three by sophomore guard Diego Bernard and three triples from Dreamer in a three-minute stretch that helped the Cats grow a 31-13 advantage.
Although Dreamer was the leading scorer on the night, Northwest continued to show that at any given moment any one of its starters and a few players off the bench can dominate a game offensively. In just the first half, the Bearcats boasted three players in double figures — Bernard with 15, Dreamer with 13 and Hawkins with 12.
After falling behind by 20 points, 37-17, around the six minute mark, the visiting Prairie Stars were able to stop the bleeding and hang around for the rest of the half. Much of the credit for keeping the game close goes to UIS freshman Chase Robinson.
The 6-2 guard scored 11 of his 16 points in a six-minute stretch to help his team finish the half down by just 14, 46-32.
But the Northwest offense was just too much for the Prairie Stars to overcome.
Leading by 13, 53-40, with 17 minutes on the second half clock, the Bearcat offense took off.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Dreamer got things started.
Bernard and Hawkins got in on the action, too, and sophomore guard Trevor Hudgins, who led the team with 11 assists, scored all five of his points on back-to-back buckets.
In all, a 23-2 run, which lasted six minutes and included four three-pointers and 14 points from Dreamer, buried the visiting team under a 34-point deficit.
Seven players got into the scoring column for Coach Ben McCollum's Bearcats.
Dreamer's 29 led the way. Bernard scored 19, going 8-for-19 from the field.
Hawkins was 7-for-17 for 16 points. Welty scored nine on 6-for-11 shooting.
Redshirt freshman Luke Waters came off the bench and scored all seven of his points in the second half.
Junior guard Daric Laing also got in on the action with six points, followed by Hudgins' five.
The Prairie Stars were held to their lowest point output of the young season. Previously, the least the team had scored in five wins was 78 points, averaging 90.8 points per game.
UIS got 16 points apiece from Robinson and Daniel Soetan. Matt Wendling had 10.
The Northwest men will now get a week off before a two-game road trip to get the conference season started. The Bearcats will visit Lincoln on Dec. 5 and Central Missouri on Dec. 7.