By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News
The Iowa Wesleyan basketball teams split games against SLIAC rival Westminster on Saturday at Ruble Arena. The women picked up their first home win, 59-57, but the men fell just short, 87-72.
The Tiger women used a strong defensive performance to hold on to a tight lead at halftime. IW outscored Westminster 16-14 in the first quarter and led by one piont, at 25-24, when the halftime buzzer rang.
Darby Massner led the tea at halftime with eight points, six of which came on two of the Tigers? three three-pointers. She and Ahlia Tai were in foul trouble however, with both players heading to the locker room at three fouls.
The Blue Jays tied the game at 27-27 early in the third quarter but the Tigers responded with six straight points. The Tigers eventually ran their lead up to double-digits at 44-32 on a Caitlyn Welch three-pointer, but Westminster knocked it down to nine points, 44-35, at the end of the periods.
Westminster clawed back in the fourth quarter and made it a two-point game with 2:11 left. The Tigers were able to pull away, however, and held a 59-54 lead in the final ticks. Westminster?s Kendal Miller hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to make it just a two-point Tiger win, at 59-57.
?This was one of the first games I thought our girls played a full 40 minutes,? Tiger head coach Jack Bruns said after the game. ?(I?m) really proud of the effort our girls had. That?s a really well coached team too (and) they?ve got some fantastic players. I?m proud of the way my team played.?
D. Massner finished with 16 points and seven rebounds to lead the team. Josie Zerrusen scored 15 points and led the team with two assists. Allie Massner had nine points. LaStella Slack and Welch scored eight points apiece and Tai finished with three.
The Tiger men had their hands full with a Westminster team that entered 4-1 in the conference to tie for the conference lead.
The IW backcourt came out firing in the first half. Jake Neubauer, Brock Butler and Elijah Johnson combined for 31 points in the first half and the Tigers went into the locker room down just four points at 40-36.
The Tigers couldn?t quite get the lead in the second half, but IW was within two points in the final three minutes when a Mitchell Drey jumper cut the Blue Jay advantage to 73-71.
Westminster?s offense was able to keep up a consistant scoring effort down the stretch and the Tigers were never able to get off a shot that could tie the game, as the Blue Jays escaped with an 87-82 win.
Neubauer and Butler co-led the team with 20 points apiece. Butler finished the night with 11 rebounds for a double-double, and Neubauer led the squad with two assists. Drey scored 12 points nad dished out three assists to give the Tigers three double-digit scorers.
Johnson finished the night with 12 points. Austin Banks had eight. Austin Rebel scored six and Camron Mack finished with four.