MOUNT PLEASANT – Heather Larson (Jr.-Canton, Ill.) carried Iowa Wesleyan College early and the Tigers made the plays down the stretch to take a well-earned 68-61 win over Mount Mercy College Saturday afternoon at Ruble Arena.
Larson scored 22 points, including 21 in the game’s first 25 minutes, and Wesleyan came back after losing the lead late to win a showdown between the only two Midwest Collegiate Conference teams without a loss. IWC remained perfect in conference at 5-0 (10-7 overall), while the Mustangs fell to 3-1 in conference play, 12-5 overall.
The Tigers took the lead midway through the first half and led by as many as 14 points early in the second half, but still needed a late rally to come through with the win. IWC led 45-31 with 15:39 left after Larson hit her fifth three-pointer of the game, giving her 21 of the Tigers’ first 45 points in the game.
Mount Mercy rallied back, though, doing most of its work in the paint with penetration and second chance points, and the Mustangs took the lead at 53-52 on a lay-up by Catalina de la Quintana with 6:21 left. The teams traded baskets on their next possessions, but the Tigers would then hold the Mustangs scoreless for the next 3 ½ minutes while scoring eight straight points, all at the free throw line.
IWC’s 62-55 lead with 2:39 left would hold up, as Mount Mercy got no closer than three points the rest of the way. The Tigers struggled some at the foul line, missing seven free throws in the final three minutes, but also held the Mustangs to just one field goal in the game’s final 5:49.
Larson’s 22 points were an IWC career high. The junior had 15 points in the first half, making the difference as the Tigers built a 31-24 lead at halftime. Wesleyan held the Mustangs to 29.6% shooting (8 of 27) in the first half.
Rachel Mitchell (Sr.-Des Moines, Iowa) had 13 points and led the Tigers with nine rebounds. Ali DeVries (Jr.-Bellevue, Iowa) added 12 points and five assists and made seven of nine free throw attempts, while Brittany Okland (Sr.-Kelley, Iowa) had nine points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots, including two big blocks in the final two minutes.
Wesleyan shot 40.8% for the game, making 20 of 49 shots. The Tigers also out-rebounded the Mustangs 47-33 and held Mount Mercy to 34.8% shooting (23 of 66), including just 2-for-22 shooting from three-point range (9.1%).
IWC’s schedule gets no easier in its next game, as the Tigers go to Des Moines on Wednesday to face Grand View University. The Vikings are ranked 17th in the most recent NAIA Division II national poll and also have just one loss in MCC play.
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.