MOUNT PLEASANT – The Iowa Wesleyan College men’s basketball team limited Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.) College to 32.4% shooting in the second half, erasing a halftime deficit in a 76-69 win Saturday afternoon at Ruble Arena.
The Tigers came back after trailing by as many as ten points in the first half, working through a large size disadvantage to win their second straight game and improve to 5-7 this year. Wesleyan also gained a split of the season series against HLG, avenging a 73-61 loss to the Trojans on Nov. 10.
IWC used a pesky zone defense to confuse Hannibal-LaGrange particularly in the second half. The Tigers also won the rebounding battle, out-boarding the Trojans 46-39 despite the visitors featuring three players 6-8 or taller.
Wesleyan trailed most of the way in an ugly first half in which the Tigers shot just 10-for-37 (27.0%). HLG led by 10 points on two occasions, including a 30-20 margin with 3:11 left in the half, and appeared to be taking control of the game when the Tigers finished the half strong, scoring the final six points before the break to trail just 30-26 at halftime.
IWC made its move early in the second half, outscoring the Trojans 17-2 in an early stretch. Gary Rademaker (Jr.-Emden, Ill.) capped the spurt with a three-pointer to make it 45-35 with 13:03 left in the game.
The Tigers would lead by as many as 14 points when Reggie Shipp (Jr.-Aurora, Ill.) hit a pair of free throws to make it 55-41 with 6:39 left. The lead continued to hover around 10 points until the Trojans made it interesting in the final minute. A pair of three-pointers and a jumper over a 21-second span made it 70-67 with 38 seconds remaining in the game, but Wesleyan finished by making its final seven free throws to clinch the win.
Shipp once again carried IWC with 27 points and 11 rebounds, both game highs. He scored over 20 points for the third straight game and the sixth time this season, and also has now scored a career high in two straight games after tallying 26 points in a win at Clarke College a week ago.
Rademaker scored 11 points and Weldon Miller (Jr.-San Rafael, Calif.) added 10 points and seven rebounds. Jamal Blackmond (Fr.-Aurora, Ill.) also had five points and eight rebounds and helped limit HLG star Brian Gilbert to nine points and seven rebounds despite a nine-inch height disadvantage when guarding him man-to-man.
Wesleyan shot 35.4% for the game (23-for-65) but was 13 of 28 (46.4%) in the second half after a chilly first half. The Tigers also made 23 of 32 free throws (71.9%). Hannibal-LaGrange slipped to 4-8 this season and shot 37.7% for the game (23-for-61), including 12 of 37 in the second half. Brock Webber led the Trojans with 14 points off the bench including four of his team’s seven three-pointers.
IWC will now take a break until facing Ashford University on Dec. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in a Midwest Collegiate Conference game. The game will be on the road in Clinton and will be the Tigers’ final game of 2009.
Box score IWC 76 HLG 69