MOUNT PLEASANT – Iowa Wesleyan College raced out to a big lead early in the second half and then turned back a late rally by Grand View University to defeat the Vikings 62-54 and win the Midwest Collegiate Conference Tournament championship and clinch an automatic berth to the NAIA Division II National Tournament.
The 13th ranked and top-seeded Tigers held off the 17th ranked and second-seeded Vikings to win their second straight MCC tourney title and their fourth conference tournament title in the last five years. IWC also is headed to the national tourney for the fourth time in five years and tied a school record with its 25th win of the season.
The Tigers (25-7 overall) went on a 14-0 run late in the first half to take control of the game, and then started the second half with a 14-3 run that proved to be the difference. As it did throughout the game, IWC did it with defense, allowing just one field goals combined over the two deciding runs.
The teams went back and forth for the first 15 minutes until the Tigers made 7 of 8 shots over a stretch to take a 32-19 lead late in the first half. Grand View would eventually finish the half with the final five points and was within striking distance, down 32-24 at halftime.
After playing a zone in the first half, Wesleyan switched to a man-to-man early in the second half and it paid off immediately. Jessi Beachey (Jr.-Fisher, Ill.) scored eight points early out of halftime and the Tigers forced a number of turnovers early, going ahead 46-27 with 14:25 left in the game.
IWC eventually stretched the lead to 20 points at 49-29 on a jumper with 12:07 to go by Jill Ginder (Jr.-Olney, Ill.), who came up big offensively with 16 points to lead the Tigers. But Wesleyan hit a scoring drought for an extended period of time and the Vikings did not go away.
After Ginder’s jumper with 9:23 to play made it 53-35, the Tigers would not score for nearly six minutes. In that time, Grand View (25-8 overall) scored 13 straight points, repeatedly getting to the free throw line and converting 10 straight free throws. Jennifer Jorgensen had eight points in that span and her layup with 4:06 left cut the Wesleyan lead to 53-48.
Ginder finally broke the drought with two free throws with 3:35 left, and then added a layup with 1:51 remaining to push the margin back to nine points. IWC closed the game out with shaky foul shooting, missing 6 of 11 free throws in the final 1:32, but closed out an excellent defense down the stretch, in all allowing just six points in the final four minutes of the game.
Ginder led the Tigers with 16 points as well as four steals. Beachey had 14 points and nine rebounds and Melanie McCreight (Jr.-Winfield, Iowa) added 12 points. Sheray Brown (Jr.-Detroit, Mich.) also grabbed 10 rebounds, helping Wesleyan to a 41-25 rebounding advantage that included just five offensive rebounds for GVU. Anna Jones (Jr.-Cornell, Ill.) also added eight points, six rebounds and a game-high five assists before fouling out with more than six minutes left in the game.
The Tigers shot 55.0% in the first half (11-for-20) but just 9 of 30 in the second half (30.0%), finishing the game at 40.0%. Wesleyan also committed 20 turnovers, but just five in the second half after 15 in the first half.
Jorgensen had game scoring honors with 23 points, hitting 6 of 10 from the field and 10 of 11 from the foul stripe. Bailey Schechinger added 14 points and seven rebounds for Grand View, which shot 34.1% (15-for-44) but made 21 of 25 free throws (84.0%). The Vikings now will wait for a likely at-large berth to the NAIA Division II national tourney, which takes place next week March 10-16 at the Tyson Events Center and Gateway Arena in Sioux City.
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; firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail) or log on to IWC's athletics web site at www.iwc.edu/athletics.
Box score #1 IWC 62 #2 GVU 54