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Mangas' three sends 'Cats to quarterfinals

TOP CAT: Indiana Wesleyan's Kyle Mangas looks to drive against a Dakota Wesleyan defender in the Wildcats'NAIA Division II national tournament Round of 16 game Friday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Mangas' three-pointer with two seconds to play lifted the 'Cats to an 87-86 win and a spot in the national quarterfinals against Oregon Tech today at 5 p.m.

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

"That's just Kyle Mangas being Kyle Mangas."

That was how Indiana Wesleyan men's basketball coach Greg Tonagel described his sophomore's 3-pointer with two seconds remaining that lifted the No. 1 Wildcats past No. 16 Dakota Wesleyan, 87-86 in the Round of 16 at the NAIA Division II National Tournament Friday afternoon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

"He took what the defense gave him. He's always poised. He never gets in a rush," Tonagel said. "He's just an elite player on so many levels. I think for him, he always has a mental edge over everybody because of just how poised he is."

Mangas, the two-time reigning Crossroads League Player of the Year, has been a clutch performer for the Wildcats from the day he set foot on the South Marion campus. Now, nearing the midpoint of his college career, he added a shot that long will be remembered in the annals of Indiana Wesleyan basketball.

It was a bit bizarre the Wildcats needed such end-game heroics, having led for more than 38 minutes and owning a 17-point lead less than two minutes into the second half.

But when Dakota Wesleyan's Ty Hoglund knocked down a short jumper in the lane with 1:42 to play, it gave the Tigers their first lead of the game at 80-79.

IWU would gain the lead back on a pair of free throws by Evan Maxwell just a few seconds later, but Collin Kramer swished home a '3' with 1:17 to play and put Dakota Wesleyan on top, 83-81. After Maxwell converted 1-of-2 from the line, Kramer dished a pass to Mason Larson who'd slipped behind the 'Cats defense for an easy alley oop layup and an 85-82 lead for the Tigers with 37 seconds remaining.

After an Indiana Wesleyan timeout, Grant Smith delivered a perfect sideline inbounds pass to Mangas in the lane, and his bucket pulled the 'Cats back within one with just four seconds running off the clock.

Opportunity presented itself for IWU when Kramer missed two free throws, but Hoglund came up with a deflection that wound up in the hands of teammate Aaron Ahmadu who was immediately fouled with seven seconds to play. Ahmadu missed his first free throw but hit the second putting DWU on top 86-84.

Mangas took the inbounds pass and raced up the court to the left side of the center circle and his last left-handed dribble and long step put him perfectly in position for a step-back '3'. And the rest is now a piece of IWU basketball history.   

"(The defender) was riding me pretty hard on my side so I knew I could get leverage off him if I do a step back," Mangas said in an IWU press release. "I have worked on that shot thousands of times so I was ready for it."

Mangas' shot from the left wing swished through the net with 2.1 seconds showing. 

After a Dakota Wesleyan timeout, Hoglund's last-gasp shot from the center circle bounded off the rim securing Indiana Wesleyan's place in the Round of Eight for the sixth-consecutive season.

"You can describe it a lot of ways and I'm sure people outside of the locker room would describe it as luck or whatever," Tonagel said. "But when you're inside this locker room with these guys and you've journeyed through an entire season together you realize there is something far greater than that.

"Its something special when you get a group of guys together that don't look out for themselves first, but really do love each other and care for each other," he continued. "It's in those moments when you blow a 17-point lead that you don't doubt each other, you believe in each other and you give your chance to still win."

The Wildcats raced out to a 12-0 lead in less than three minutes to start the game only to have Dakota Wesleyan starting clawing back and eventually drawing within 21-20 just past the nine minute mark of the first half. 

IWU gradually started to pull away again, outscoring the Tigers, 29-17 over the final 10:07 of the opening 20 minutes. Freshman Jonathan Mpanzu's put-back at the buzzer sent the 'Cats to intermission with a 50-37 lead.

 

The lead expanded to 17 points 1:40 into the second half and the Wildcats maintained a double-digit advantage over the next four minutes before Dakota Wesleyan put together a 16-5 run to pull within 61-55 with just under 14 minutes remaining.

Maxwell and Joel Okafor scored baskets 40 seconds apart to put IWU back up by 10, then Mangas' only other '3' of the game with 10:13 to play had the Wildcats leading, 70-58.

But it would be nearly four minutes before IWU scored again on a Smith field goal, and the 'Cats missed their only two field goal attempts and had four turnovers and the Tigers pulled with 70-65.

Smith extended IWU's lead back to seven with his bucket, but the Dakota Wesleyan surge continued and Samuel McCloud's three-pointer with 4:38 to play tied the game for the first time at 74-all.  

IWU hit 12-of-24 from the field in the second half and finished 30-of-60 for the game. After hitting 9-of-16 from long range in the first half, the 'Cats made just 2-of-10 in the second and committed 10 of their 15 turnovers opening the door for the Tigers' comeback.

"It was turnovers first ... and then when we did have those open looks, we just needed one or two of them two fall," Tonagel said. "If we hit a couple '3s' that would have given us just enough cushion, but we just weren't able to knock them down."

Hoglund, NAIA DII's fifth-leading scorer at more than 26 points per game, scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half. Only six Tigers scored, but five were in double figures with Nick Harden (22) and McCloud (20) leading the way.

Nine Wildcats played and all scored, five in double figures.

Mangas topped IWU with 18 points adding five rebounds and five assists. Smith chipped in with 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Okafor finished with 14, Maxwell had 12 and Trevor Waite scored 11 and Canaan Coffey had nine.

Mangas saved the day but IWU got important minutes from everyone.

 

"You can go on down the line: Grant Smith's charges were some critical plays. Mpanzu comes in right before half, plays 20 seconds and has an offensive rebound (and basket)," Tonagel said. "So many guys played a key role in making that happen."

IWU meets Oregon Tech, a 84-72 winner over IU-Kokomo, at 5 p.m. today with the winner advancing to the Fab Four at 7 p.m. Monday.