DES MOINES – Keenan Stanbridge (Jr.-Quincy, Ill.) hit a dramatic three-pointer with 14 seconds left, and Iowa Wesleyan College held on the final seconds for a 91-90 win over Grand View University in a classic Midwest Collegiate Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament title game Sunday night.
The second-seeded Tigers (20-10 overall) claimed the MCC tourney championship and the league’s automatic bid to the NAIA Division II National Tournament to be held March 11-17 in Point Lookout, Mo. Iowa Wesleyan is headed to the national tourney for the first time since 2006, also the last year the Tigers won the MCC Tournament title.
Stanbridge’s three-pointer came off an inbounds play with 16 seconds left in the game in which the junior got free in the left corner and buried the shot for his fifth three-pointer of the game. The Vikings (25-8 overall) had one final chance to tie in the final seconds, but the Tiger defense forced Rohan Greaves into a tough three-point try in the closing seconds, finally ending a game between the top two seeds in the conference tournament that lived up to all expectations.
The Tigers and Vikings both shot better than 54% from the field and combined for 27 three-pointers made. Neither team led by more than nine points and the game was tied nine times in the first half and saw 11 lead changes as well as runs by both teams that came just when the other appeared to have finally taken the upper hand.
After the teams spent the game’s first 25 minutes going back and forth with neither team able to shake the other, the Tigers looked to have gained control midway through the second half after a 15-3 run gave IWC a 71-62 lead with 9:26 left. Brad Leverston (Sr.-Markham, Ill.) came in off the bench and made an immediate impact with two quick baskets inside to ignite the run, which also featured a pair of three-pointers by Jared Callanan (Jr.-Bennington, Vt.) and another by Stanbridge.
As quickly as Wesleyan had run out to the lead, though, Grand View came right back with a 19-6 run of its own. The Vikings hit one big three-pointer after another in the game and especially in the second half, and Greg Schulz hit three triples alone in the run that gave GVU an 81-77 lead with 5:05 left in the game.
The Vikings continued to come up with key three-point shots and led 89-84 with 2:40 left after another three by Schulz. The Tigers were likely one possession from being in serious trouble but refused to fold, coming back with a pair of lay-ups by Michael Coons (Sr.-Hannibal, Mo.), the second cutting the deficit to 89-88 with 1:02 left.
Grand View still held control in the final minute, but a pair of missed free throws gave Wesleyan the ball down just two with 30 seconds to play. IWC initially got Callanan open for a three-point attempt that missed, but Stanbridge rebounded and Wesleyan took a timeout with 16 seconds to play, setting the stage for Stanbridge’s three-pointer which stood up as the winning points when the three-point attempt by Greaves went off the rim and the ball bounced away as time expired.
Da’kari Shelby (Sr.-O’Fallon, Ill.) led the Tigers with 20 points and was one of five IWC players in double figures. Stanbridge and Brett Humpal (Sr.-Decorah, Iowa) both added 15 points, Jason Garber (Sr.-Emden, Ill.) had 14 and Callanan added 13 off the bench. Humpal also added a game-high eight rebounds and a team-high seven assists, and the senior All-American will make his second trip to the national tournament. He and Head Coach Alan Magnani are the only remaining holdovers from Wesleyan’s last national tourney qualifier team in 2006.
The Tigers shot 34 of 62 for the game (54.8%) and hit 13 of 24 three-point tries (54.2%), including eight in a wild first half that saw Grand View take a 46-45 lead into halftime. IWC also out-rebounded the Vikings 32-20 in defeating GVU for the first time in three meetings this season after a 10-point loss in Des Moines in January and a narrow three-point defeat at home in February. Wesleyan also has its fifth 20-win season in eight years and just the eighth 20-win season in school history.
Greaves led Grand View with 23 points, including six three-pointers, and was one of five players to score in double figures. Schulz added 17 points including five three-point baskets. The Vikings shot 31-for-56 (55.4%), including 59.3% in the second half (59.3%), and made 14 of 29 three-point tries (48.3%). Grand View, ranked 17th nationally in NAIA Division II and the MCC regular season champions, will now have to wait to find out if it receives an at-large bid to the 32-team field for the national tourney.
Pairings for the NAIA Division II national tourney will be announced Wednesday. The tournament begins Wednesday, March 11 at Keeter Gymnasium on the campus of the College of the Ozarks. IWC will be making its fourth national tournament appearance all-time and its third in the NAIA Division II tourney. Wesleyan is 0-2 in the NAIA Division II Championships all-time, including an 87-81 loss to Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio) University in 2006.
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.
Box score #2 IWC 91 #1 GVU 90