Council Bluffs, IA -- November 2nd, seems like a while ago, For an Iowa Western basketball team that at the time only had one returning player (Emmanuel Ugboh), it seems like years ago. Such is college basketball.
November 2nd was the first game of the 2018-19 season for Iowa Western, and it pitted them against a Sunrise Christian squad that had already played four games going into that contest. That extra game experience showed, as the Buffalos beat Iowa Western on that day in Sedalia, MO as part of the State Fair Roadrunner Tip-Off Classic 87-72.
Fast forward to last evening (2/13/19) at Reiver Arena and the Reivers showed their overall improvement as a team by handled that same talent latened Sunrise team 98-88. Sunrise came into the contest 10-1 against junior college programs and boasted a roster that included young men who have already signed to play next fall at the likes of Creighton, Michigan State and Missouri for 2019-20. While two of those aforementioned individuals indeed did have significant performances; Shareek Mitchell (Creighton) 24 points, and Malik Hall (Michigan State) 29 points respectively; it was the Reivers who showed their collective improvement and talents as a unit that controlled the game midway through the first half and never looked back.
Travon Broadway played a spirited game; scoring a game high 32 points, while Christian Bentley (19pts), Emmanuel Ugboh (13pts), and Caleb Huffman (12pts) also reached double figures in the contest. Parker Hazen turned in a gutty effort as he scored 8 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, and dished out 4 assists; all while trying to "hold the fort" against the future Michigan State Spartan; Hall.
Along with the overall improvement shown by the Reivers since the last time both teams locked horns in November; there was also a significant improvement made by Iowa Western since just last Saturday. After shooting 11/26 from the foul line against Northeast (2/9/19), the Reivers stepped to the charity stripe against Sunrise (who themselves shot a blistering 22/24 FT's) and converted on 26/30 free shots. Just as in the game Saturday, free throws determined this contest, this time in Iowa Western's favor.
With the win, Iowa Western moves to 21-6 overall on the season. Up next is a conference game at home against Marshalltown this Saturday evening (2/16/19) that has playoff seeding implications. Tip-time between the Reivers and the Tigers is slated for 7:00pm from Reiver Arena.