Council Bluffs, IA -- Trailing by as many as 17 points, the Iowa Western men's basketball team showed true determination Tuesday evening (11/5), and in doing so; capped off one of the largest (if not the largest) comebacks in Reiver (formerly Kanesville) Arena history; with a hard fought 79-73 home opening win over the visiting Butler Grizzlies. *To date, there is no standing record or account of the actual largest comeback on record.
The Reivers found themselves in an early hole as the traveling team from El Dorado, KS found the bottom of the net on virtually every shot in the games opening moments; racing out to an early 10-2 lead. Up 25-17 mid-way through the first half, Butler built it's largest lead of 17 points behind yet another 12-3 run; for a 37-20 Grizzly lead with 5:22 left in the half.
From there the historic Reiver comeback began. Though it started quietly; by finishing the half with a modest, but important, mini run and finishing the half within striking distance at 13 points by the end of the games opening frame. In the second half, after a couple opening baskets by both teams, the Reivers returned the favor that Butler showed to open the game with a 12-0 run of their own to pull within a single point at 41-40. Butler held on to that slimmest of leads for several minutes, but by then the game was clearly back on; and when Alec Spence hit a corner three point shot with 12:24 to play, the Reivers had taken their first lead of the contest at 53-50.
From then on the game was a back and forth affair; with neither team backing down. The lead changed hands 8 times over the game's next 6 minutes, with Butler claiming it's last lead at 62-61. That lead was short lived however, for on that basket a taunting technical was called and the Reivers followed with a three point trip on the other end. Josiah Strong's freethrow tied the game and a Seneca Louis drive and finish put the Reivers up for good. The Reivers would extend their lead out to as many as 8 points; only to see the Grizzlies claw within 2 points with 54.7 seconds remaining. However, on this night Iowa Western had come back from too far to cave-in late and finished with 4 key defensive stops and strong foul shooting to collect one of the largest comeback's in the respected basketball program's history; 79-73.
The Reivers were led by Caleb Huffman's 24 point - 12 rebound "double-double" effort. Mal Pine scored a career high 15 points, while Jalen Dalcourt rounded out the double figure scorers for the Reivers with 11 points. Josiah Strong dished out 8 assists while only turning the ball over once, and Seneca Louis secured double figure rebounds with 10 boards on the night. Butler was paced by Marque English's 22 points, and Zach Butler's 12.
Up next for the Reivers is a trip to the inaugural IA/MO Challenge; where Iowa Western will play the "prime time" 8:00pm game against the hosting State Fair Roadrunners. The event will feature 8 NJCAA D1 teams (4 from Iowa, 4 from Missouri); each playing two games over the weekend in Sedalia, MO.