MOUNT PLEASANT – Briar Cliff University shot 55.7% from the field and staved off a late comeback attempt by Iowa Wesleyan College to defeat the Tigers 86-76 on the opening night of IWC’s Kiwanis Classic at Ruble Arena.
The Tigers cut a 16-point second half deficit to one with 4:47 remaining in the game but could get no closer as Briar Cliff closed the game on a 13-3 run. The Chargers improved to 5-2 overall while Wesleyan dropped to 4-3 on the season.
Briar Cliff started the game off cold, missing six of its first seven shots as the Tigers took a quick lead in the opening minutes. The Chargers did not stay cold, though, and answered with important buckets whenever needed the rest of the night in finishing by making 33 of their final 54 shots.
BCU led the entire second half and looked ready to make the game a blowout when it outscored IWC 15-4 over a five-minute span in the second half to take the largest lead of the game at 61-45 with 12:49 left. The Tigers came back with 11 straight points to stay in striking distance, though, and after Briar Cliff briefly pushed the lead back to nine points came back to get within one at 73-72.
Jared Callanan (Jr.-Bennington, Vt.) scored nine straight points to get Wesleyan within a point with plenty of time left, but the Tigers never got over the hump. The Chargers’ Kyle Semprini hit a three-pointer on the next trip down the court, and IWC was never closer than four points the rest of the way.
The teams swapped the lead three times in the early going of the first half before BCU went on a 17-3 run to take the lead for good and go ahead 34-25 with 4:49 left in the half. The Chargers went into halftime with a 44-36 lead.
The Tigers lost despite shooting 52.8%, making 28 of 53 field goals. IWC was 7 of 24 from three-point range (29.2%) and made only 13 of 27 free throws (48.1%), including the front end on four one-and-one opportunities. Briar Cliff also held a 36-31 rebound edge.
Brett Humpal (Sr.-Decorah, Iowa) led IWC with 18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and six steals. Callanan added 17 points off the bench and Michael Coons (Sr.-Hannibal, Mo.) also scored 12 points off the bench. Semprini led the Chargers with 22 points and was one of four BCU players in double figures.
In the tourney’s opening game Bethel (Ind.) College defeated Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.) College 87-67. The Pilots showed why they are ranked second in the country in the NAIA Division II polls, shooting 57.1% for the game and scoring 19 straight points in the first half to pull ahead and eventually improve to 7-0 on the season.
The Kiwanis Classic continues Saturday with two more games. Briar Cliff and Hannibal-LaGrange will play at 1 p.m., while the Tigers will face Bethel at 3 p.m. in the final game of the tournament.
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.