MOUNT PLEASANT – The Iowa Wesleyan College women’s basketball team opened it up in the final 15 minutes to grab a 69-45 win over Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.) College in their season opener Tuesday night at Ruble Arena.
The Tigers put away the Trojans with a 28-5 run in the second half, fighting off some cold shooting to win their season opener for the fourth straight year. Hannibal-LaGrange dropped to 0-4 on the season.
IWC never trailed in the game but the lead was anything but comfortable for the Tigers until the final 12 minutes. The scrappy visitors, with just eight players in uniform, hung with the Tigers through the first half, trailing just 30-23 at halftime as both teams shot below 26% in the first 20 minutes.
Hannibal-LaGrange crept even closer early in the second half, whittling the lead down to two points at 33-31 after two free throws by Abby Rankin with 15:27 left. The Tigers heated up over the next eight minutes, though, hitting nine of their next 15 shots, including back-to-back three-pointers by Brittney Wilson (Sr.-Cedar Rapids, Iowa) to make it 43-31 with 13:02 left.
IWC also took advantage of foul trouble and the Trojans’ lack of depth as the second half went on. Hannibal scored just 14 points in the final 15:27, and Wesleyan eventually pushed out to a 61-36 lead after a jumper in the lane by Brittany Janz (So.-Toncia, Ill.) with 4:13 left. The Tigers led by as many as 27 points in the final minute.
Sherry Zehner (Jr.-St. Louis, Mo.) led IWC with 11 points off the bench. Brittany Okland (Sr.-Kelley, Iowa) added 10 points and Heather Larson (Jr.-Canton, Ill.) had nine. Anna Jones (Fr.-Cornell, Ill.) led the Tigers in rebounds (eight) and assists (six) and added six points. Thirteen different Wesleyan players played and twelve players scored, with no one playing more than 26 minutes.
The Tigers shot 32.4% for the game, making 22 of 68 shots, but held a 56-48 rebound advantage. Hannibal-LaGrange shot 13 of 61 (21.3%), including just 6-for-32 in the second half (18.8%). Sara Rondeau led the Trojans with 12 points while Rankin had 15 rebounds.
Iowa Wesleyan now gets ready for the Concordia (Neb.) University Cattle Classic this weekend in Seward, Neb. The Tigers will play a pair of ranked teams in the tourney, starting with a game Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Sterling (Kan.) College, which is ranked 11th in the NAIA Division II preseason coaches’ poll.
For more information regarding the IWC women’s basketball program 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.