MOUNT PLEASANT – Brittany Okland (Sr.-Kelley, Iowa) controlled the inside with 17 points and a career high 16 rebounds, and Iowa Wesleyan College tied a school record for three-pointers made in a game in an 80-70 win over St. Ambrose University in a Midwest Collegiate Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament semifinal game Saturday afternoon at Ruble Arena.
The Tigers (21-9 overall) hit 15 of 31 three-point tries in the game, including nine triples in the second half. The top seed in the MCC tourney, Wesleyan advances to the championship game Monday night at home against #3 seed Mount Mercy College, after the Mustangs knocked off second-seeded Grand View University 62-55 on Saturday. The winner of Monday night’s game will receive an automatic bid to the NAIA Division II National Tournament held March 11-17 in Sioux City.
IWC (23rd ranked in NAIA Division II) did almost all of its offensive damage from the three-point line and particularly in the second half, opening the half with six three-pointers in the first seven minutes. Leading by just two after the fourth-seeded Queen Bees had scored the first four points of the second half to draw within 33-31, IWC went on a 25-9 run over the next five minutes to take a 58-40 lead with 13:10 left in the game.
The Tigers stayed in charge the rest of the way, though St. Ambrose made a final run late to get within five points twice, the last time at 73-68 with 2:11 to play. IWC answered appropriately enough, though, with a three-pointer by Ali DeVries (Jr.-Bellevue, Iowa), her fifth of the game and the 200th of her career. The basket provided the final dagger to the Queen Bees’ hopes, as Ambrose got no closer than six the rest of the way.
Wesleyan led from start to finish, and along with its superb performance shooting from outside also out-rebounded SAU 51-29, led by Okland’s career rebounding game and nine boards by Heather Larson (Jr.-Canton, Ill.). IWC also held the visitors to 36.6% shooting (26-for-71), but the Bees stayed in the game in large part by forcing 24 Tiger turnovers with their zone defense. St. Ambrose scored 25 points off turnovers and despite playing from behind from the beginning was only down 33-27 at halftime.
DeVries led the Tigers with 20 points, while Larson added 18, hitting six three-pointers and just missing out on again tying the school record for threes in a game (seven) that she tied in the quarterfinals on Thursday against William Penn University.
Megan Couch (Jr.-Mooresville, Ind.) also added 12 points, including three three-pointers made, and Rachel Mitchell (Sr.-Des Moines, Iowa) had 11 assists to move into second on the IWC all-time assists list. Mitchell passed Kathy Jo Winterbottom (391 assists from 1981-85) for second and with 394 for her career is 10 from tying Erin McFadden (2004-06) for the school record.
The Tigers shot 21-for-50 for the game from the field (42.0%), and the 15 three-pointers made tied a record originally set Dec. 16, 2006 against Northwood (Fla.) University. IWC also made 23 of 32 free throw attempts (71.9%), including 16 of 20 in the second half and eight in the row in the game’s final 4:12. The Tigers swept all three games this season against SAU and knocked the Queen Bees out of the MCC Tournament one year after St. Ambrose defeated Iowa Wesleyan 63-60 in the championship game last year.
Ali Dolphin had 25 points to lead the Queen Bees, while Amy Fulfs added 18. St. Ambrose finished the season 20-11 overall.
IWC also extended its home court winning streak to 24 games, and the Tigers will put that streak on the line Monday night against Mount Mercy, a team they split a pair of games against in the regular season. Iowa Wesleyan defeated the Mustangs 68-61 on Jan. 10 in Mount Pleasant, while the Mustangs returned the favor with an 83-78 overtime win in Cedar Rapids on Feb. 7.
Wesleyan is looking for its third MCC Tournament title in the last four years, along with its third NAIA national tourney bid in four years. The Tigers and Mustangs met in the MCC championship game two years ago, with IWC pulling out a 64-58 win in Cedar Rapids.
A radio broadcast of Monday night’s game is not scheduled at this time; however, KILJ Radio FM 105.5 in Mount Pleasant will be providing updates of the game throughout the night. Ticket prices for the championship game are $6 for adults, $2 for students.
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.
MCC Tournament Bracket