MOUNT PLEASANT – Iowa Wesleyan College almost overcame a 22-point deficit but hot-shooting Jamestown (N.D.) College held off a Tiger comeback attempt to win 83-77 in Wesleyan’s home opener Friday at Ruble Arena.
The Tigers saw a 25-game homecourt winning streak end against the team ranked sixth in NAIA Division II. Jamestown (8-1) shot 62.5% in the first half in building a 20-point halftime lead, and then heated up again down the stretch to drop IWC to 2-6 on the season.
Wesleyan was in trouble from the start as the Jimmies hit five three-pointers in the first 5:16, building a quick 24-7 lead. Jamestown would finish with six triples in the first half as well as three more three-point plays, in all making 20 of 32 shots from the field. Meanwhile, the Tigers made just 13 of 33 first half shots (39.4%), including just 1 of 9 three-point tries, and Jamestown finished the half with a 49-29 lead at the intermission.
The visiting Jimmies would push the lead to 22 points with a basket on their first possession of the second half before IWC went to work on cutting the deficit. The Tiger defense started creating havoc and the shots that were falling for Jamestown in the first half started missing.
Wesleyan whittled the lead down under double figures when Melanie McCreight (Jr.-Winfield, Iowa) converted a steal and layup to make it 57-49 with 12:04 left in the game. The Tigers continued to chip away and cut the lead to three when Jill Ginder (Jr.-Olney, Ill.) hit one of two free throws making it 63-60 with 6:40 left.
IWC missed a number of opportunities to get closer, though, and the Jimmies slowly pulled away again. Amanda Rantapaa hit her fourth three-pointer of the game to make it 72-62 with 3:01 left, and Jamestown’s Kellie Schuneman would convert another three-point play to make it 77-66 with 1:29 remaining. The Tigers had chances but got no closer than six points the rest of the way.
Jessi Beachey (Jr.-Fisher, Ill.) commanded the inside and scored a game-high 31 points, making 11 of 14 field goal attempts and 9 of 11 free throws. McCreight added 15 points off the bench while Anna Jones (So.-Cornell, Ill.) had five points and led the team with seven rebounds, 10 assists and six steals.
The Tigers finished the game shooting 43.8% (28 of 64), while Jamestown shot 51.7% for the game (30-for-58). IWC also made just 4 of 16 three-point tries while the Jimmies finished 7 of 22 (31.8%) from beyond the arc.
The Tigers return right back to the court on Saturday at 1 p.m. against Valley City State (N.D.) University at Ruble Arena. The Vikings are the latest in a long line of strong opponents for Wesleyan early this season, as VCSU is just outside the top 25 in the NAIA Division II coaches’ poll.