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IWU men down Central in D-3 tourney

IWU men down Central in D-3 tourney

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ST. LOUIS — The breakneck pace of Friday night’s NCAA Division III Tournament first-round game didn’t bother Ron Rose.

In fact, the Illinois Wesleyan basketball coach said, “I think we have a very skilled and offensive-minded team. The more possessions in the game I think is to our advantage.”

That said, there were a couple of possessions Rose and the Titans could have done without against Central (Iowa) at Washington University’s WU Field House.

IWU led 82-73 with 50 seconds left, but then went 2 of 7 from the free throw line. That eventually gave Central two chances to tie with a 3-pointer, but one was off the mark and another possession ended in a turnover. Sean Johnson finally nailed down the 86-81 IWU win, sinking two free throws with 1.8 seconds left.

“Usually we’re very good at the end of games with free throws,” said Titan junior forward Doug Sexauer, who had 19 points and 11 rebounds. “Today, we missed a few. But we made the ones that counted at the end I guess.”

IWU (21-7) was 12 of 14 at the line prior to its late struggles. It finished 16 of 23 while advancing to Saturday night’s 7 o’clock game against two-time defending Division III champion Washington, which defeated Westminster in Friday’s second game. The winner moves on to sectional play next week.

The Titans built a 45-36 halftime lead on the strength of Johnson’s four first-half 3-pointers. They led by as many as 13 in the second half, but Central (23-5) got as close as two with 20 seconds left before IWU held on in its first NCAA appearance since 2006.

“I think one of the keys was taking the lead early,” Rose said. “We were able to play from ahead and maintain that. I thought it would be a game of runs because they’re very aggressive offensively and attack. I give my kids a lot of credit. They came at us and we went right back at them.”

Johnson finished 6 of 10 from 3-point range and led IWU with 24 points. The junior guard sank 3s on three straight possessions in the first half.

“I thought the guys did a great job of getting me screens,” Johnson said. “But I give most of the credit to Doug (Sexauer). When teams start doubling on him it makes my job a lot easier.”

Sophomore Jordan Zimmer added 17 points and five rebounds for IWU, while junior point guard Travis Rosenkranz had 10 points and matched Johnson’s four assists.

The Titans had a 41-38 rebounding edge behind John Koschnitzky’s 12 boards. They shot 41 percent from the field on 30-of-73 accuracy, making 10 of 21 from beyond the arc.

Central shot 52 percent, but season scoring leader Miguel Ley could not get a potential tying 3 to go in with eight seconds left. He had another chance seconds later but lost the ball out of bounds.

“I thought it was going in,” he said of the missed 3-point try. “On the turnover, I looked up at the clock and tried to spin and just dribbled it off my foot.”

Six-seven senior Loren Liming led Central with 25 points. Ley had 18.

Saturday night’s game will be IWU’s second this year against Washington, a 76-71 winner on Nov. 22 at Shirk Center.

Ill. Wesleyan 86, Central  81

NCAA DIVISION III TOURNAMENT

AT ST. LOUIS

CENTRAL COLLEGE

    Min    FG    FT    Reb    A    PF    Pt

Madsen    27    2-6    2-2    4    1    3    7

Ley    38    7-18    1-3    4    7    5    18

Holan    36    4-6    3-7    5    2    2    13

Liming    29    11-18    3-3    7    0    5    25

Cooper    32    1-2    0-0    12    3    0    2

Cave    1    0-0    0-0    0    0    0    0

Caves    6    0-2    3-4    0    0    0    3

Chapline    11    2-3    0-0    2    0    2    4

Lehmann    2    0-0    0-0    0    1    0    0

Bruns    18    4-5    1-2    4    0    3    9

Team

Totals    200    31-60    13-21    38    14    20    81   

ILLINOIS WESLEYAN

    Min    FG    FT    Reb    A    PF    Pt

Johnson    33    7-17    4-6    0    4    3    24

Rosenkranz    32    4-10    1-2    1    4    3    10

Zimmer    25    5-10    6-6    5    2    3    17

Sexauer    27    8-14    2-2    11    1    2    19

Koschnitzky    28    2-9    1-4    12    0    1    5

Schick    7    0-0    0-0    1    3    2    0

Dwyer    19    0-2    0-0    2    3    2    0

O’Callaghan    1    0-0    0-0    0    0    0    0

Lawson    17    2-7    0-0    3    1    2    5

Connolly    12    2-4    2-3    5    0    0    6

Team                1               

Totals    200    30-73    16-23    41    18    18    86   

Central College      36    45    —   81

Illinois Wesleyan      45    41    —   86

Three-point field goals: Centra College 6-15 (Madsen 1-5, Ley 3-5, Holan 2-3, Caves 0-1, Bruns 0-1); Illinois Wesleyan 10-21 (Johnson 6-10, Rosenkranz 1-1, Zimmer 1-2, Sexauer 1-1, Koschnitzky 0-3, Lawson 1-4). Turnovers: Central College 15, Illinois Wesleyan 11. Blocked shots: Central College 8 (Liming 4, Cooper 3, Holan), Illinois Wesleyan 1 (Sexauer). Steals: Central College 6 (Ley 3, Holan 2, Bruns, Illinois Wesleyan 7 (Johnson 2, Rosenkranz 2, Zimmer 2, Sexauer).

Officials: Wilkerson, Juronen, Birk.

Attendance: 683.

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