MOUNT PLEASANT – Iowa Wesleyan College shot 55.4% and held William Penn University to 34.1% shooting, pulling away for a dominating 96-66 win over the third-seeded Statesmen in their Midwest Collegiate Conference Tournament semifinal game Friday night at Ruble Arena.
The second-seeded Tigers overcame a slow start to own the final 35 minutes of the game and advance to the MCC Tournament championship game Sunday night. IWC will face top seeded Grand View University at 6 p.m. Sunday in Des Moines, with an automatic berth to the NAIA Division II National Tournament on the line. Grand View outlasted #4 seed Viterbo (Wis.) University 79-68 in the other MCC semifinal Friday night and as regular season champions will host the championship game.
Wesleyan (19-10 overall) was propelled by a 26-6 run in the middle of the first half that allowed the Tigers to take control after a shaky first few minutes. William Penn opened the game by taking an 11-2 lead, but IWC responded and went ahead 28-17 after a jumper by Patrick Macki (Jr.-London, England) with 9:02 left in the half.
IWC would never trail again, as WPU briefly got back within six points before the Tigers pushed the lead out again and went into halftime with a 45-30 advantage. Wesleyan shot 51.5% in the first half (17-for-33) and hit five three-pointers, while for William Penn the story of the game was an inability to hit from the outside. The Statesmen were just 1 for 11 on three-pointers in the first half and were even worse in the second half, finishing the game 2-for-31 from beyond the arc (6.5%).
Meanwhile, the Tigers’ shooting got even better in the second half, as IWC made 14 of 23 field goal attempts (60.9%). Wesleyan capped a 15-1 spurt with a jumper by Brett Humpal (Sr.-Decorah, Iowa) followed by a free throw by Matt Lafrenz (Sr.-Bennett, Iowa) to make it 63-38 with 14:35 left, and Penn never got closer than 16 points the rest of the way.
The Tigers kept the Statesmen at bay with good shooting from both the field and the free throw line, as IWC hit 18 of 24 free throws in the second half (75.0%) and 27 of 35 foul shots for the game (77.1%). Wesleyan also out-rebounded the visitors 50-35, including a 29-16 advantage on the boards in the second half.
Humpal finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds in what will be his final home game, and during the game the senior All-American moved into second place on the all-time IWC scoring list. Humpal passed both Adam Stringer (1,721 points from 2002-06) and Dan Kelly (1,723 points from 1967-71) and finished the game with 1,733 career points.
Michael Coons (Sr.-Hannibal, Mo.) added 16 points, including 14 in the second half, and Keenan Stanbridge (Jr.-Quincy, Ill.) also had 15 points and six rebounds. Three other Wesleyan players finished with nine points in the game, and Da’kari Shelby (Sr.-O’Fallon, Ill.) added 10 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Alex Robinson finished with 24 points and eight rebounds to lead William Penn, the defending MCC Tournament champions who dropped to 22-10. IWC swept all three games from the Statesmen this year and has now won four straight games against its rival.
The Tigers will be appearing in their first MCC championship game since 2006, when IWC defeated Penn for its last trip to the NAIA tourney. Wesleyan will be taking on a Grand View team ranked 17th in NAIA Division II. The Vikings (25-7 overall) defeated the Tigers in both of the teams’ regular season meetings, winning 66-56 in Des Moines on Jan. 14 and edging IWC 62-59 in Mount Pleasant on Feb. 11.
For those unable to travel to the game, KILJ Radio FM 105.5 is likely planning to broadcast the championship game live Sunday night. A Web cast will be available at www.kilj.com.
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.
Box score #2 IWC 96 #3 WPU 66
MCC Tournament Bracket