Student-Athlete Profile: Emerson Halbleib and Dante Kikuba

 Bears Point Guard Dante Kikuba shooting a three-pointer against MCLA on January 25th. Courtesy of Bridgewater State University Athletics & Recreation.[/caption]

The Bridgewater State Bears Men’s Basketball is having an impressive season so far, and have improved as a team from this season. One of the biggest parts of the improvement is the new player they brought in and among them there are two athletes who are playing exceptionally well this season. Those athletes are Center Emerson Halbleib (he/him) and Point Guard Dante Kikuba (he/him).  

Halbleib is a graduate student who is enrolled in BSU’s MBA program. Halblieb graduated with a degree in physics and a minor in astronomy at Purdue University, where he also played Club Basketball. After graduating from Purdue, he wanted to continue playing basketball, so Halblieb reach out to about 200 schools across the Midwest and New England. Both the Bears and the Stonehill Skyhawks were interested in the recent grad. Ultimately, BSU had the program that he wanted and offered better prospects at playing time, so Bridgewater seemed the right fit.

Halbleib was born and raised in Carmel, Indiana where he played basketball for three seasons at a small school of 300 students, the University High School of Indiana. He stopped playing his senior year to focus on academics but came back to basketball while at Purdue. During his senior year of high school, he played tennis and lacrosse.  

Not spending all his time on the court, Halbleib also works in the Center for Student Engagement (CSE) as a Graduate Assistant. He works with systems and assessments on BSU Engage and the BSU mobile app. He also collects data on what’s working well on the digital platforms and what could be improved.  

Halbleib is leading the Bears in points per game, rebounds per game, and in blocks. He has 46 blocks so far this season, which is tied for 4th most all-time in blocks in a season at BSU.  

Also new to BSU, Kikuba is a Freshman majoring in Business Management. He graduated from Framingham High School where he played on the boys basketball team for three years. Kikuba was inspired to play basketball after his brother George taught him how to play at eight years old. 

In the last two games, Kikuba scored 20+ points and had dished 9+ assists in each game, including his career-high of 31 points in the win against MCLA.  

Halbleib and Kikuba have both won the MASAC Rookie of the Week Awards with one of them winning each week since November 21st. Halbleib has also won MASCAC Player of the Week honors twice this season, on both November 21 and January 2. He also was placed on the Team of the Week in January after his performance in the two games at the Guilford Holiday Classic on New Year’s Weekend.  

Kikuba and Halbleib complement each other extremely well on the court and the benefits are seen by the rest of the team.

“Teams like to focus on Emerson a lot, so it opens up more for everybody else. We like to get the ball inside a lot, because Emerson is a really good passer,” Kikuba said

“[Kikuba] makes my job so easy because he can get by anybody. Therefore I just have to move around a little bit and he’ll find me or take it to the basket,” Halbleib mentioned.

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