Beavers dominate Wartburg inside to win IIAC championship.
STORM LAKE - Chris Petersen finished with 20 points and nine rebounds, including four points during an 11-0 run that helped Buena Vista take a lead it would never relinquish as the Beavers defeated Wartburg 85-73 to win the Iowa Conference postseason tournament on Saturday night at Siebens Center.
The win gave Buena Vista the automatic bid to the NCAA Division III national tournament. The Beavers, now 23-5 overall, drew a first-round bye in the tournament and will play the winner of a game between Gustavus Adolphus and Edgewood this Saturday night at Siebens Center.
"We're just happy to be playing first of all," Buena Vista coach Brian Van Haaften said. "We're happy to be getting a bye and playing at home with our home crowd."
"I'm excited about this team," Van Haaften added. "I think they've improved over a 2 1/2 month stretch more than any team I've ever been associated with."
The first 10 minutes of the game see-sawed back-and-forth. Wartburg held a 25-23 lead with 9:51 remaining when Scott Weber hit two free throws to start an 11-0 run.
Petersen then made consecutive baskets, Rod Wiebers sank a 3-pointer and Jeremy Holmes added a layup to give the Beavers a 34-25 lead with 5:40 to go in the first half.
After a Wartburg basket, Buena Vista scored five unanswered points to go ahead 39-27 with 2:45 left. Adam Jones' 3-pointer ended that spurt.
Buena Vista got a layup from Casey Pelzer with 6 seconds to play to take a 41-31 halftime lead.
"The last 7 or 8 minutes of the first half I thought we started to wear them down a little bit," Van Haaften said.
Wartburg's Jamie Norton hit a 3-pointer to start the second half, cutting it to 41-34. The Beavers led 43-36 when it scored four straight points to take a 47-36 lead with 18:13 remaining.
Buena Vista led 53-40 with 16:23 to play when Wartburg scored seven unanswered points to pull within 53-47 with 13:30 to go.
Buena Vista answered with a 5-0 spurt of its own to push the lead back up to 58-47 36 seconds later.
Wartburg never got closer than eight points the rest of the way. Buena Vista's lead grew to as much as 16 points at 80-64 with 2:28 remaining on a layup by Weber. The Beavers matched their biggest lead at 85-69 when Holmes sank a 3-pointer deep in the corner with 1:18 left.
Buena Vista shot 53 percent in the first half, 50 percent in the second half and 52 percent for the game, hitting on 31 of 60 field goals.
Wartburg made 29 of 67 field goals for 43 percent. The Beavers converted 17 of 21 free throws to Wartburg's 7 of 11.
Weber finished with 18 points and five rebounds, while Jones had 14 points and five assists. Holmes added 10 points and four assists.
Scott Swalley contributed eight rebounds, Wiebers six assists and Pelzer five assists.
Buena Vista outrebounded Wartburg 39-34 and had 23 assists to just 10 turnovers.
"I thought we dominated the paint in the game," Van Haaften said. "We thought that we had a mismatch inside and we wanted to take advantage of that as much as we could."
"I thought we did a pretty good job on their shooters. They shoot the 3-ball pretty well and I thought we did a good job there. The combination of Scott Weber and Scott Swalley had one of their better defensive efforts guarding an all-conference player (Michael Pipho)."