MOUNT PLEASANT – Brett Humpal (Sr.-Decorah, Iowa) passed another career milestone and did it in style with 29 points as Iowa Wesleyan College defeated 20th ranked William Penn University 92-85 Monday night in front of a charged up crowd at Ruble Arena.
The Tigers took down their rivals for the second time this season, sweeping the regular season series between the two schools and moving into a tie with Penn for second place in the Midwest Collegiate Conference. Both teams are now 7-2 in league play but IWC has the tiebreaker over the team ranked 20th in the NAIA Division II national coaches’ poll because of two wins over the Statesmen.
It was also a special night as Humpal became the ninth player in IWC school history to surpass 1,500 points for his career. The senior came into the game needing eight points to hit 1500 for his career and reached the mark on a lay-up with 10:50 left in the first half that gave Wesleyan a 22-14 lead. He would continue to play a huge role in the game, in all hitting 10 of 16 shots as well as all eight of his free throw attempts.
The two-time NAIA second team All-American also had the shot of the game, helping fend off a second half rally by the Statesmen that threatened to undo the Tigers’ good work in the game’s first 27 minutes. IWC built a 56-40 lead in the second half and seemed to be in control until Penn quickly blew up the Tigers’ biggest lead of the game by scoring 15 straight points to close within one with 10:21 left in the game.
The Statesmen’s run energized both the visiting crowd and as the home crowd, and after a timeout the Tigers seemed to be in trouble again on their next possession with nothing happening offensively. With the shot clock about to expire, though, Humpal drained a fall away three-pointer, sending the home crowd into a frenzy and silencing the Statesmen’s run. Wesleyan would go on to score seven straight points and would not lead by less than five the rest of the game.
The Tigers shot 57.1% for the night, making 28 of 49 field goal tries, and never trailed in the contest. The game was tied four times in the early minutes, but Wesleyan took the lead for good on a jumper by Da’kari Shelby (Sr.-O’Fallon, Ill.) with 16:02 left in the first half.
IWC also had one of its best free throw shooting performances of the season. Shooting 63.9% from the line as a team coming in, Wesleyan made 28 of 34 foul shots (82.4%), including 14 of 16 in the final four minutes as WPU fouled to try to stay in the game.
In addition to his 29 points, Humpal also added seven assists and three steals. He was far from the only star, though, as three other Wesleyan players scored in double figures. Keenan Stanbridge (Jr.-Quincy, Ill.) had 20 points and hit five three-pointers, including two in the second half after the Statesmen had closed the gap to a single point.
Shelby also added 16 points and six rebounds, and Jason Garber (Sr.-Emden, Ill.) added 11 points. Patrick Macki (Jr.-London, England) also added eight points and hit six of six free throws down the stretch to help seal the victory.
IWC has now defeated WPU three straight times dating back to last season. All three times the Statesmen have been ranked nationally.
The Tigers now go on the road for their next two games, starting with a game at Clarke College in Dubuque on Thursday night. Tip-off time will be 7:30 p.m., or about 25 minutes after the preceding women’s game. IWC’s next home game will be Feb. 4 against St. Ambrose University.
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; firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail) or log on to IWC's athletics web site at www.iwc.edu/athletics.