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Mangas scores 35 in IWU win over Bethel

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MONEY: Indiana Wesleyan’s Kyle Mangas puts up a short jumper in the lane for two of his 35 points in the Wildcats 95-92 win over Bethel Saturday in Luckey Arena.
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BOARD BATTLE: Indiana Wesleyan’s Elaina Ededuwa puts up a shot after grabbing one of her 11 offensive rebounds. Ededuwa finished with a career-high 20 points to lead five ‘Cats in double figures in IWU’s 89-66, Crossroads League win over Bethel Saturday in Luckey Arena.

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

It wasn’t pretty, but any win in the Crossroads League is a beautiful thing.

Case in point was the NAIA Division II fourth-ranked Indiana Wesleyan men’s second grind-it-out victory in a row on Saturday in Luckey Arena, a 95-92 nailbiter over No. 23 Bethel in the nightcap of a Crossroads League doubleheader.

In the opening game, Indiana Wesleyan’s women used five players scoring in double figures to pull away in the second half to earn a 86-66 win over Bethel and move to 6-0 in league play. 

Bethel started the men’s game on fire from the opening tip and held a lead throughout the entire first half. The Pilots scored the first bucket and the only tie of the opening 20 minutes was at 2-2, but the Pilots hit their first six three-point shots and used several scoring spurts to pull away for a 50-35 lead with 2:36 to play in the half. 

“They hit some tough shots and some shots off balanced,” said IWU coach Greg Tonagel. “Thankfully we weathered it. We make a three we go into halftime down three, we miss and they hit a three so that was a big swing I thought.”

The Wildcats closed the first half with a flurry, a pair of Canaan Coffey three-pointers sandwiched around a basket by Grant Smith then followed by a pair of Kyle Mangas free throws in less than two minutes pulled IWU within 50-45. Coffey had another good look at a three from the corner that would have trimmed the ‘Cats deficit to two, but it bounded off the rim and Bethel’s Nick Pluta hit just his fourth three of the season with five seconds to play sending the Pilots to intermission up 53-45.

The ‘Cats started the second half with a 9-1 run to tie the game at 54 then took their first lead of the game at 61-59 with 15:38 to play. Only once more would Bethel lead, at 63-61, and IWU started to gain control. 

“If we don’t come out in the first four (minutes of the second half), I’m not sure we have a shot, so you’ve got to give our guys credit for coming out and playing (well),” Tonagel said.

“For whatever reason, we think we’re not going to get everybody’s best shot. Every time we walk on the court, we’re going to get hit,” Tonagel added. “We came out tonight and they hit us. They’re a good team, a nationally-ranked team, and we’ve got to understand that we have to play from the start. We’ve done this two games in a row and thought we’ll just mess around for awhile. At this level and in our league, you can’t mess around. You’ve got to come ready to play.”

Indiana Wesleyan eventually extended its lead to 84-74 with just under seven minutes to play before Bethel started to chip away, primarily at the free throw line.

The Pilots hit 20-of-34 (59 percent) field goal attempts in the first half but managed just 7-of-24 (29 percent) over the final 20 minutes. Bethel stayed in the game by connecting on 22-of-31 free throw attempts in the second half, and 27-of-38 for the game.

IWU hit 15-of-18 from the line in the second half and 24-of-31 for the game. 

The teams were whistled for 53-combined fouls, and the second half was played with very little rhythm or flow by either team.

“There was no flow. We can only control what we can control, we’ve got to stop fouling and bring the rhythm back into the game,” Tonagel said. “We’ve got to watch the film and learn from it, because there are certainly things we can do on our end, the things that we can control.”

Mangas and Coffey carried much of the offensive load for IWU. Mangas finished with 35 points on 12-of-18 field goal shooting and 9-of-11 from the free throw line.

Coffey added 19 and made 5-of-8 from three-point range and all four of his free throw attempts.

Trevion Crews scored 30 and Paul Forman added 21 for Bethel.

The formula Indiana Wesleyan’s women’s basketball team used to start the Crossroads League season at 5-0 proved itself successful again on Saturday.

Outstanding defense combined with dominant post play led the NAIA Division II No. 16 Wildcats to an 89-66 win over Bethel, their sixth-straight to start league play.

Five Wildcats scored in double figures, led by junior Elaina Ededuwa who poured in a career-high 20 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, all on the offensive glass.

Nicole Ignasiak added 16 points to help the Wildcats win the points in the paint battle, 50-34 and out rebound the Pilots, 39-24.

“There is skill involved but it’s just a matter of will and grit,” said IWU coach Ethan Whaley of his team’s post dominance. “They’re crashing the boards and playing physical inside, and I couldn’t be more proud of them and couldn’t ask for more than that.”

Anne Seacrest, a wing/post player added 10 points while the Wildcats backcourt duo of senior Katie Key (12 points) and Margot Woughter (10 points) helped fill out the balanced Wildcats’ offensive attack.

Despite needing more than 20 of the 30 seconds on the shot clock for most of its possessions, Bethel was able to keep the contest close for most of the first half. The Pilots scored the first four points of the game before IWU held Bethel scoreless for nearly five minutes and score 10-straight to move in front 10-4 on the way to leading 19-16 after the first quarter.

The Wildcats started to gradually pull away then scored the final seven points of the first half to take a 39-27 lead to intermission.

“They’re really disciplined, they don’t take bad shots and they work literally for the whole 30 seconds,” Whaley said of Bethel.

“I think early in the first half we’d play defense for about the first 25 seconds then we’d give up an easy shot or give up a basket drive or a cut.

“Coming out of halftime the focus was play defense for 30 seconds, lock in, jump to every pass, every close out,” he continued. “I felt like we did that, and when we got stops we were able to get out and run and play at the pace we want to play.”

IWU extended its advantage to 60-42 after three before putting up 29 points over the final 10 minutes to finish with a 23-point win.

Kelsey Bricker led Bethel with 21 points while Jessica Erwin finished with 18.

Next up for both the Indiana Wesleyan teams is a date with cross-county rival Taylor in Luckey Arena. 

IWU’s men (15-3, 4-2 in CL) host the Trojans at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

The Wildcats’ women (13-5, 6-0) will host the No. 10 Trojans at the same time on Wednesday.