MOUNT PLEASANT – Mount Mercy College got off to the better start, but Iowa Wesleyan College came back quickly and took control just before halftime on its way to a 79-68 win Saturday in Midwest Collegiate Conference play.
The Tigers got 38 points from their bench in moving to 4-1 in conference play and improving to 8-8 overall. Wesleyan also defeated the rival Mustangs for the fifth straight time in the series and dropped Mount Mercy to 9-7 overall, 2-2 in the MCC.
It was the bench that carried IWC especially in the first half. Jared Callanan (Jr.-Bennington, Vt.) hit a pair of three-pointers, Michael Coons (Sr.-Hannibal, Mo.) had eight points, and Matt Lafrenz (Sr.-Bennett, Iowa) hit three baskets inside as reserves scored 26 of the team’s 42 first half points.
The Tigers fell behind 15-6 in the first seven minutes as the Mustangs dominated with an early 10-3 rebounding advantage and Wesleyan missed seven of its first nine shots The Tigers came back quickly, though, going on a 16-2 run to take the lead and stabilize their condition in the game. The teams went back and forth most of the rest of the half, but IWC then went on another 12-2 run to finish the first half to take a 42-33 lead into the break.
Wesleyan then finished the game with a mostly efficient second half when the team shot 65.2% and never let the lead slip below five points. The Tigers made 15 of 23 field goal tries in the second half, with all 15 makes coming in the paint, and the lead held steady between eight and 11 points most of the half. The closest the Mustangs got was 56-51 with 12:17 left after Clint Cunningham’s three-pointer capped a string of three straight threes by Mount Mercy. IWC responded with baskets inside by Lafrenz and Da’kari Shelby (Sr.-O’Fallon, Ill.) and never led by less than seven the rest of the way.
IWC finished the game shooting 50.9% (29-for-57) and overcame a rare off day behind the three-point arc, where the Tigers made just five of 22 (22.7%). Wesleyan also came back from the early rebounding deficit to finish the game with the Mustangs in a 37-37 deadlock in rebounds.
Lafrenz led four players in double figures with 14 points. Brett Humpal (Sr.-Decorah, Iowa) had 13 points, Shelby scored 11 and Callanan added 10 points. Humpal also had nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
Keith Kuenstling led the Mustangs with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Mount Mercy shot 40.3% from the field, making 25 of 62 shots.
The Tigers face another big test on Wednesday when they take on one of the MCC’s preseason favorites in Grand View University. The Vikings also have just one loss in conference 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.