A go-ahead layup by Austin Rebel could have been the game-winner in Iowa Wesleyan’s home game against MacMurray, but Highlander freshman Connor Vincent stole the win from the Tigers with a driving layup in the final 10 seconds. MacMurray won the game 78-76 to hand Iowa Wesleyan their 11th loss in SLIAC play.
The game got off to a frenetic pace early. Vincent, the eventual hero, had to keep MacMurray in the game early, scoring seven points in the first 2:13 of the game. IW had 10 points in the first two-and-a-half minutes, and led 10-7 after the early flurry of buckets.
MacMurray tied the game at 15-15 with 13:02 left in the first half, and took a short-lived lead on a jumper by leading scorer Logan Dorethy. Austin Banks tied the game back up with a layup. The two teams continued to trade the lead throughout the half, a five-point run by Jarryd Fernandes helped the Tigers to a 34-29 halftime lead.
The Tigers had as much as a 13-point lead early in the second half. Alberto Torres nailed a three-pointer in the first minute-and-a-half to put the Tigers up 42-29. MacMurray, however, clawed back and eventually took a 47-45 lead on a three-point play by Drew Burwinkel with 13:58 left.
Jake Neubauer responded with a three-pointer of his own, and the Tigers held a lead until MacMurray’s Trevor Voss tied the game at 52-52 midway through the second half. IW went back up by as much as seven points, just a few minutes later, but the Highlanders took the lead again on a three-point play by Drew Burwinkel, going up 70-69 with just under four minutes left.
Neubauer hit another go-ahead three-pointer, but back-to-back layups by Drew Burwinkel had the Highlanders up 74-72 with 1:31 remaining. Torres gave the Tigers a 75-74 lead with another three, with 1:14 showing on the clock.
MacMurray’s Hunter Flesner gave the Highlanders a 76-75 lead with 36 seconds left. Rebel’s layup made it 77-76 Tigers with 17 seconds left, but IW’s defense couldn’t hold on in their last defensive posession.
“Before their last possession, I told the guys in the huddle that we need one stop to win this game,” IW coach Alex Huisman said after the game. “We switched like we were supposed to, and we got beat straight line and we let them get to the rim and finish. It’s tough.”
The Tigers still had seven seconds to try and spike a win at the buzzer, but after another timeout, the ensuing inbounds play went awry. An entry pass from Caleb Cresswell to Torres was jumped by a MacMurray defender, and Flesner went to the line with less than a second left in the game.
Flesner missed both free throws, but IW couldn’t coral the rebound. MacMurray’s Bourke chased down the ball and the game was over.
“We knew they’d be up and making it difficult on the inbounds catch, so the idea was to get it to somebody up the sideline,” Huisman explained about the inbounds play. “We just weren’t able to execute that.”
Neubauer had 19 points to lead the Tigers in the loss. Fernandes scored 17 points and finished with three steals. Rebel had 15 points, eight rebounds and three steals, and Torres finished with 13.
Banks had eight points, seven assists and three steals in the loss. Cresswell scored three points, and Alex Dentlinger finished the night with two.
IW fell to 6-16 overall and 4-11 in SLIAC play. They’ll play a Greenville team on Saturday that put up 200 points in a game earlier this week, which earned them national attention. That game will begin at 3 p.m., at Ruble Arena.