SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - For the third time in five years Indiana Wesleyan University men's basketball has an opportunity to raise the red banner. Indiana Wesleyan defeated the top-overall seed and No.1-ranked IU East 75-72 in a thrilling national semifinal game on Monday evening.
HOW IT HAPPENED * Midway through the opening half, the Wildcats built their largest lead of 14 at 23-9. But the Red Wolves responded with a 24-8 charge to gain their first lead of the night at 33-31. IWU led 37-35 at the half. * IU East led 60-56 with 8 minutes left in the game when Indiana Wesleyan used a 13-4 run to capture a 69-64 advantage with 4 minutes to play. The five point lead was the largest for either team in the second half. * Following a 5-0 IU East run to knot the score at 69, Kyle Mangas scored down low with 1:24B to play for a 71-69 Wildcat lead. On the next Red Wolves possession, IUE missed a 3-pointer, had a shot blocked, and then committed a turnover. * Next time down the court, IU East could not capitalize on a second straight possession as Jacob Johnson grabbed the defensive rebound and was fouled. He hit both free throws for a lead of 73-69 with 14 ticks on the clock. * IU East hit a clutch 3-pointer with 8.9 seconds left and trailed by just one at 73-72. The inbounds pass went to Joel Okafor and he was fouled with 8.1 seconds. Okafor connected on both free throws for a 75-72 lead. * IU East brought the ball down the court, worked it to Bishop Smith, and the potential game-tying 3 at the buzzer was off the mark and set off a celebration in Marion. INSIDE THE BOXSCORE * Joel Okafor picked a prime time to have a career-game. The junior finished with a career-best 18 points on 6-of-6 shooting and 6-of-6 from the foul line. He added three rebounds, three assists, and two steals. * Indiana Wesleyan dominated down low with a 38-28 rebound advantage and a 52-34 advantage in points in the paint. Meanwhile, IU East outscored IWU 30-6 in shots from beyond the arc. * IU East had their 28-game win streak snapped and lost for the first time since November 17, 2017.