After late changes to the schedule due to weather, the Wildcats took on South Dakota School of Mines on Friday evening in Rapid City.
The Wildcats jumped out to an early 11-5 start on the Hardrockers over the first five minutes of play. Johnson & Wales took advantage of a stagnant SDSMT offense and went up 21-8 on a jumper by Andrew Romero III (Northglenn, Colo.) at the midway point of the first half. The Hardrockers shook off the rust and cut the 'Cats lead down to five with just over three minutes left in the half. The Wildcats made a late push with Romero adding five of the Wildcats final few points for the 38-29 lead headed into the break.
The Hardrockers started the second half on a 13-4 run to tie the game 42-42. South Dakota School of Mines continued to hold the momentum and added seven straight to go up 49-42 on JWU. Johnson & Wales made small runs to cut into the Hardrocker's lead but SDSMT countered with their own to continue to lead.
Each time the Wildcats would get the deficit down to a manageable number the Hardrockers would build their lead back up. By the final whistle, the Hardrockers had done enough to hold off Johnson & Wales 81-75.
Jontrell Herman (Duck Hill, Miss.) led JWU with 23 points and had a team high seven rebounds. Romero had six assists for Johnson & Wales in the loss. Konor Kulas led SDSMT with 23 points and a game high 11 rebounds.
Johnson & Wales will stay in Rapid City and take on College of the Ozarks on Saturday at 2pm MT.