Iowa Wesleyan men stage second-half comeback

By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News


The Iowa Wesleyan men found themselves in a four-point halftime hole on Wednesday night against MacMurray, but much like in the women?s preceding game, a hot-shooting Tiger squad came back to get the win. IW scored 52 points in the second half to run past the Highlanders, 88-80.

The Tiger men had quite a hard time scoring in the first half. MacMurray held IW to just 13-34 from the field and 4-18 from the three-point line, which led to a 40-36 deficit at the break.

The only IW player who seemed to have success early on was Mitchell Drey, who scored 16 first-half points including three makes from three-point land to keep the Tigers afloat.

It was a different team offensively when the Tigers came out of the break. IW scored the first nine points of the half, including two three-pointers from Elijah Johnson. In the blink of an eye, IW was up by five, at 45-40, less than two minutes into the period.

That sparked a huge second-half for the Tigers, who never trailed after the second half rush. Johnson would hit two more threes in the half to finish with 12 in the final 20 minutes. Brock Butler scored 12 second-half points and Drey added 10.

On the other side of the ball, MacMurray went ice cold from down town. After shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc in the first half, the Highlanders went 1-12 from deep, allowing IW to run away with the win.

Tiger head coach Alex Huisman credited a faster pace for the team?s success in the second half.

?One of our keys was to push the tempo a little bit,? Huisman said. ?We score the basketball and we like to play fast, and I think we did that better in the second half.?

He also praised the play of Drey, who finished the game with 26 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two blocks, all of which led the team.

?Mitch played well,? Huisman said. ?He scored the ball, got a couple good looks early and was very aggressive. We know what Mitch is capable of (and) we know for a lot of teams, he?s a mismatch, taking bigger guys to the perimeter and posting up smaller guys. He took advantage of that tonight.?

Butler scored 18 points in the win. Johnson and Jake Neubauer had 14 apiece and Camron Mack finished with 10 to give the Tigers five double-digit scorers. Jarryd Fernandes had four points in the victory, and Austin Banks had two.

IW moved to 3-13 overall and 3-6 in SLIAC play with the win. They?ll head to Principia for a conference game on Saturday, Jan. 20, at 2 p.m.