DES MOINES – Iowa Wesleyan College roared back from a 13-point second half deficit and clinched a tie for the Midwest Collegiate Conference regular season title by defeating Grand View University 75-73 Wednesday night in a battle of nationally ranked teams fighting for first in the conference.
The 14th-ranked Tigers also wrapped up the top seed in the upcoming MCC Tournament, completing a sweep of the season series with the 19th-ranked Vikings with a hard earned win. IWC also won its ninth straight game and clinched its fifth straight season of 20 or more wins, improving to 20-7 overall, 13-1 in the MCC.
The Tigers came back after trailing 54-41 with 13:52 left in the game, seemingly set to go quietly until going on a 17-2 run to not only get back into the game but take the lead. Melanie McCreight (Jr.-Winfield, Iowa) and Jessi Beachey (Jr.-Fisher, Ill.) combined for 16 straight points and Anna Jones (So.-Cornell, Ill.) finished the spurt with a layup to put Wesleyan ahead 58-56 with 9:47 remaining in the game.
Iowa Wesleyan’s comeback would set the stage for a dramatic final 10 minutes. Following the Tigers’ run, Grand View (21-7 overall, 11-3 MCC) would score six straight points to retake the lead, but IWC battled back again, finally getting the lead back on two free throws by Jones with 3:29 left.
The Vikings came back again to take a one-point lead with 1:34 left, but it was the Tigers who would make the biggest plays down the stretch. Beachey drove for a layup with 1:16 left to make it 69-68, and following an empty possession for GVU and a timeout, Jones got open on a backscreen lob from Megan Couch (Sr.-Mooresville, Ind.) and scored to make it 71-68 with 34 seconds left.
Wesleyan would not trail again but would sweat it out until the final buzzer. The Tigers went up five after Sheray Brown (Jr.-Detroit, Mich.) hit two free throws with 16 seconds left, but the Vikings scored with nine seconds left to cut the margin to three. Beachey split a pair of free throws and GVU’s Beth Ehlers hit a three-pointer with five seconds left, and after McCreight hit one of two free throws with 2.7 seconds left, the Vikings had a final shot, but Jennifer Jorgensen’s 30-footer at the buzzer was long.
The Tigers were able to overcome a difficult first half that started promising but turned ugly in a hurry. IWC led for the first 10 minutes before Grand View pulled ahead with a 12-2 run and a 27-21 lead. The Vikings shot 48.3% in the first half and hit six three-pointers, while Wesleyan struggled with foul trouble and an injury to Jill Ginder (Jr.-Olney, Ill.), who hit her head hard on the ground late in the half and would not return to the game. GVU finished the half with still another three-pointer and led 39-31 at the break, then extended the lead early in the second half before the Tigers’ comeback.
McCreight and Beachey both scored 21 points, with McCreight scoring 16 of her 21 in the second half and hitting three three-pointers. Jones added 11 points and Ginder had nine early in the game before going down with the injury. The Tigers shot 56.5% in the second half (13-for-23) and finished shooting 23 of 49 (46.9%).
The Vikings finished the game with a season-high 10 three-pointers, shooting 10-for-20 from behind the arc. Jorgensen led GVU with 21 points and was one of four players to score in double figures. Grand View shot 45.3% for the game, making 24 of 53 shots. The Tigers also defeated the Vikings 71-57 on Jan. 13 in Mount Pleasant, and with the sweep claimed the tiebreaker for head-to-head play, locking up the number one seed in the conference tournament.
IWC can clinch its second straight outright regular season conference title and third in five years with a win Saturday at Viterbo (Wis.) University in La Crosse, Wis. Game time will be 4 p.m. An online audio broadcast will be available at www.iwc.edu/onlinemedia.
For more information regarding the IWC basketball programs or any of the Tiger athletic teams, contact sports information director Adam Glatczak (319-385-6306 phone; 319-385-6384 FAX; email@example.com e-mail) or log on to IWC's athletics web site at www.iwc.edu/athletics.
Box score #14 IWC 75 #19 GVU 73