IW basketball splits nail-biting doubleheader
BY ANDY KRUTSINGER
Mt. Pleasant News
FULTON — The heat was on for a handful of SLIAC basketball teams in Fulton on Wednesday night as the Iowa Wesleyan women and men took on Westminster in a big conference doubleheader.
Both contests came down to the final minute, and it was the Tiger women who were able to pick up the 66-61 win. The men’s team fell, 91-88.
The women were helped by a fast start to the game. IW jumped out to as much as a nine point lead in the first quarter. They went into the second period with an eight-point advantage, 15-7.
The Tigers stretched the lead to as much as 13 points in the second quarter and led, 36-27 at the half.
IW held on to at least a three possession lead throughout the third quarter, even leading by 16 points early in the period, but Westminster was able to cut it back to nine points, at 54-45, after three periods.
The Blue Jays made a run at the lead late in the game, using a number of layups to cut the Tiger lead to three points, with 40 seconds left.
Leading 62-59 in the final minute, Allie Massner knocked down a couple of free throws to stretch the lead back to five, at 64-59.
Westminster cut the lead again with 27 seconds left, but Jaimie Hurd stepped up and knocked down two shots from the charity stripe to make it 66-61.
The Blue Jays had a couple of shots late to make it a one possession game but the Tiger defense stayed strong and IW came away with the road win.
The IW women led the entire game, thanks in part to big day shooting the ball. The Tigers went 23-52 from the field and 12-26 from the three-point line. The defense held SLIAC leading scorer Andrea Zalis to just 14 points.
Cairece Allen went 7-11 from the field and 5-6 from down town to finish the game with 19 points. She also pulled down five rebounds to co-lead the team.
Allie hit four three-pointers and scored 17, and Darby Massner hit three shots from three-point land and finished with 13 points.
Hurd scored eight points, came down with four rebounds and dished out five assists in the win. LaStella Black scored six points. Ahlia Tai had two and Hunter Clark had one.
First place was on the line in the men’s game as both teams came into the game at 5-1 in SLIAC play.
For the second straight game, the Tiger men shot out to an early double-digit lead. IW went up 39-25 with 7:21 left in the half.
The Tigers held on to the lead throughout the half and went into the locker rooms with a 53-41 lead, thanks in part to eight three-pointers in the first half.
Westminster rebounded in a big way in the second half. The Blue Jays vanished the Tiger lead just over eight minutes into the half to tie the game at 64-64.
The two teams traded leads throughout the second half with no team leading by more than four points after the Blue Jays tied it up.
Steven Soukup stepped to the line with 2:30 left and IW trailing, 86-85. He hit them both and the Tigers led, 87-86.
Westminster took an 88-87 lead on a layup with just over one minute left. With 35 seconds left, Michael Soukup drew a foul and hit one of two free throw attempts to tie the game at 88-88.
Westminster’s Tanner Cochran hit a dagger three-pointer with just six seconds remaining, which forced the Tigers to try for a game-tying three of their own.
IW wasn’t able to get a shot off as the Blue Jays forced a turnover in the final ticks to escape with the three-point win.
Austin Walker went 8-10 from the field and 4-5 from three-point land to lead the Tigers with 20 points. Michael had a monster day with 19 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
C.J. Singletary went 3-3 from deep to finish with 15 points. Steven had 15 points of his own. Brock Butler had 11. Elijah Johnson scored six and Dallas Majors ended the game with two.
The Tiger women moved to 5-8 overall and 4-2 in conference play. The men went to 9-5 overall and 5-2 in conference play. Both teams are currently tied for second place in the conference.
The two teams will travel to Fontbonne University for a doubleheader on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 1 p.m.