Council Bluffs, IA -- Of the four previous Reiver wins thus far in the 2019-20 season, three of those wins had been by coming back from double digit deficits. Tuesday evening became the fourth such come-from-behind affair in now the Reivers five wins of the early season; as Iowa Western on the strength of a 62 point second half explosion passed the Southwestern Spartans for a 91-85 victory.
Playing without their co-captain and second leading scorer Jo Strong (due to injury), Iowa Western played its worst half of basketball in the first twenty minutes of play, turning the ball over 8 times and shooting just 34% from the floor and a meager 16% from 3pt range; trailing by as many as 18 points in the first frame. To put that in comparison, the Reivers only turned the ball over 8 times the entire game the previous Saturday in their hard fought two point setback to a much better (then Southwestern) Barton (KS) team. Whether the Reivers experienced a hangover from that heartbreaking loss or not, they had some answers to find at halftime, as they trailed Southwestern 45-29 at the break.
Answers they found, as the Reivers then put together their best shooting performance of the year. Iowa Western shot a blistering 69% from the floor (22/32), and 80% (8/10) from behind the three point arch in the game's second twenty minutes. On the defensive end of the floor, the Reivers finally cooled off the Spartans to just 38% (12/31) from the field, and 27% from three point range. Only the foul line kept Southwestern in the contest late, as the Spartans converted on 13 of their 16 free throws. After a few lead changes starting near the 9 minute mark of the game, the Reivers took the lead for good with 6:45 to play.
Kaleb Thornton led the Reivers with 21 points and 6 assists, while four other Reivers scored in double figures. Seneca Louis collected a double-double with his 12 point - 11 rebound effort. Damontrez Ruffin had his best evening as a Reiver, the freshman from Georgia scoring 19 points; while Caleb Huffman (15 points) and Jalen Dalcourt (12 points) rounded out the other double figure scorers for Iowa Western.
The 18 point comeback was the largest of the Reivers' four come-from-behind victories this season. The other double digit deficit comebacks this season thus far have been: Butler (trailing 17pts), Moberly (trailing 16pts), and Iowa Central (trailing 12pts).
After playing 11 games in 26 days; the Reivers now have a much needed break, and will not return to the hardwood for another 10 days when the host the Iowa Western Classic Dec 6th and 7th at Reiver Arena.