Team takes big lead, holds off Coe on road for IIAC playoff title; Augustana next in Illinois
Late in the fourth quarter here Saturday night, Coe College had cut the Buena Vista University men's lead to 69-66. It had the ball and ten seconds on the clock to make a three and force overtime.
BVU Coach Brian VanHaaften took a timeout to get his team back in focus.
"I just told the guys that every game we've had down the stretch of this season and in the playoffs has been tough, and this one was no different," he said. "We just had to make some plays and we were able to do that."
Coe missed two three-point shots as the Beavers held on for a 69-66 win.
The Iowa Conference playoff title game was played before a packed house at the Coe gym. With the win, the Beavers improved to 15-13 overall and received an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III national tournament. mIt was the Beavers' fifth straight conference playoff title.
"It's was just an awesome feeling after the game," said BVU senior forward Jesse Schmidt.
"Especially after the way we started the season. To go to Wartburg and Coe and beat two tough teams on the road says something about us as a team. I think our guys have a lot character."
Monday morning, the NCAA announced pairings. BVU will take on Augustana Thursday night in Rock Island, Ill. in the opening round.
"We don't know much about them, other than that they won a very tough conference," VanHaaften said
"We just have a special group of kids this year," Van Haaften added. "They were all disappointed when we started the season at 2-4 in conference play and 4-11 overall.
"They just kept working hard and we kept getting better and better with every game."
After taking a 7-0 lead, Coe's 6-foot-7 sophomore Kyle Kuenstling scored from in close for the Kohawks' first points with over four minutes elapsed.
The Beavers continued with their momentum, building first half leads of 14-7, 18-9, and 24-11.
With 7 minutes, 18 seconds left in the first half, BV's Brian Fogelman knocked down a short jumper, then hit a similar shot seconds later. After a layup by Matt Wittry, the Beavers held a 30-14 lead with 5:17 left in the half.
Coe began chipplng away at the lead, and ended the half on a 16-10 run for a 40-30 halftime advantage.
"I thought we executed well on offense," added VanHaaften. "We found the open player and hit some shots and also got some baskets in transition."
Two minutes into the second half, BVU led 41-31. Coe went on a 5-2 run to get to within seven at 43-36 with 16.49 left.
The Kohawks trimmed the lead to 45-40 by BVU freshman guard Andre Wagner canned a jumper to get the lead back to seven.
Over the next four-plus minutes, Coe used a 9-4 to get to within two points (51-49) with 8:25 left.
With 7:35 left, Coe post player Mike Kilburg banked a shot home off the glass and his team was within 52-51 with 7:35 remaining.
BVU senior Nesha Francic scored a two-point basket to spur an 8-0 run. With 6 :07 left, the Beavers were up 60-51.
Coe struck right back to get to within 62-60 with just 51 seconds remaining.
With 44 seconds left, Wittry hit one of two free throws for a 63-60 BVU lead. After a Coe turnover, Schmidt found some room underneath and hit a layup to make it 65-60. After a field goal by Coe guard Cory Deshaw, Wagner was fouled on a short jumper and made two free throws for a 67-62 BVU advantage with just 29 seconds left.
Deshaw countered with two free throws on the other end, but BVU's Bissen made it a two possesion game by making the first of two free throws for a 68-64 lead.
Bissen missed the second free throw, but Schmidt notched a crucial rebound with 22 seconds left.
"The rebound by Jesse at the end there was one of the biggest plays of the game," VanHaaften said.
Schmidt was fouled with 14 seconds left and made one of two free throws for a 69-64 lead with 14 seconds left.
Deshaw made a layup with nine seconds left, then Kohawk guard Brad Axdahl made a steal in the backcourt and quickly called time out. With nine seconds left with the ball and a three-point deficit, Coe looked to force overtime.
After play resumed, Kuenstling attempted but missed a three-point shot from the key. The rebound was batted out of bounds by a BVU player with two seconds left. Coe inbounded the ball with .9 seconds left and Kuentsling's shot barely drew iron.
"I thought getting some shots to go down early was a key, and we were able to outrebound them," VanHaaften said.
"We did a great job of defending their post players, and Matt (Wittry) really shut down (guard) Brad Axdahl."
Schmidt and guard Rahn Franklin led BVU with 12 points each and Fogelman and Mark Joekel added eight points each.
BVU came out of the gates shooting well, firing at a 58 percent clip in the first half. They hit just 36 percent in the second half. Coe was held to 40 percent shooting in the first half but hit 46 percent in the second half. Bissen and Fogelman finished with eight and five rebounds, respectively.
Deshaw led Coe with a game-high 19 points while Kilburg added 16 and Rob Hanna and Kuenstling ten each.
Coe was 14 of 20 from the line and six of 20 from beyond the arc. BV was 12 of 19 from the line and five of 15 from three-point territory.