CEDAR RAPIDS – Keenan Stanbridge (Sr.-Quincy, Ill.) scored 18 points in his return to the court and Iowa Wesleyan College opened the second half on a big run and defeated Central Methodist (Mo.) University 84-64 at the Bosch Financial Shootout hosted by Mount Mercy University.
The Tigers unveiled a team new-look squad with a number of newcomers playing significant roles, and the result was a good one. IWC won its season opener and got a rare win over a typically strong CMU program which has appeared in the NAIA Division I National Tournament each of the past two years.
Iowa Wesleyan did so with stout defense, holding Central Methodist to 34.4% shooting for the game. Wesleyan also took hold of the game at the start of the second half, outscoring the Eagles 12-0 out of the halftime break to take a 48-30 lead after Stanbridge’s three-pointer with 16:03 remaining in the game. The Tigers would remain in control the rest of the way, letting the lead slip no lower than 14 points and at one point building a 27-point bulge.
A mix of returnees and newcomers led the way, with Stanbridge representing both sides. A redshirt senior who was a member of the 2008-09 IWC team which advanced to the NAIA Division II National Tournament, Stanbridge missed last season due to a knee injury. He returned to the court strong, though, hitting four of eight three-point tries and leading the Tigers with his 18 points.
Nate Fuqua (Sr.-Maywood, Ill.) and Jeremy Simmons (Jr.-Jackson, Tenn.) also added 16 and 14 points, respectively. Fuqua, a transfer from Central Missouri State University, also tied for team honors in rebounds with eight, while Simmons, one of three transfers on the team from Volunteer State (Tenn.), added 14 points off the bench.
The Tigers shook the Eagles in the second half after a back-and-forth first half which featured seven ties and 12 lead changes. Neither team led by more than three points until IWC finished the half with four points in the final 13 seconds for a 36-30 halftime lead.
Wesleyan shot 48.3% for the game, hitting 29 of 60 field goal attempts. The Tigers also hit nine three-pointers and made 17 of 20 free throws (85%) while out-rebounding Central Methodist 42-37.
Davis Warner (Jr.-Murfreesboro, Tenn.) added eight points and eight rebounds, while Joe Evans (Jr.-Jackson, Tenn.) also chipped in seven points off the bench. Reggie Shipp (Sr.-Aurora, Ill.), the team’s leading scorer last year, scored just three points but distributed the ball well, tying a career high with nine assists.
Mike Regan led Central Methodist (1-1 overall) with 20 points. The Eagles finished 24-9 last year and had defeated the Tigers each of the last three years.
IWC plays its second game in the Bosch Financial Shootout on Saturday when it faces Trinity Christian (Ill.) College at 2 p.m. at the Hennessey Recreation Center. Trinity Christian lost to host school Mount Mercy 99-78 in Friday night’s second game. A live broadcast of Saturday’s game will be available at www.iwc.edu/onlinemedia.
Box score IWC 84 CMU 64