Washington Evening Journal
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IW basketball comes up short in first round
Tigers end historic season to Evangel Valor at NAIA National Tournament
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — The Tigers men's basketball team traveled to Fort Wayne, Indiana on Tuesday kicking off their journey at the 2023 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Men’s Basketball Tournament on the campus of Indiana Tech University.
Iowa Wesleyan, the No. 7 seed, faced off with the Evangel University Valor, the No. 10 seed, in the opening round matchup.
For the Tigers it was a rough day on the hardwood as they were knocked out of the tournament with a 65-58 loss to the Valor.
The game would start out slow for both teams offensively, but Edriel Martinborough would make a three-pointer to get the Valor on the board.
The Tigers countered with an 8-0 run with buckets coming from Francis Okwuosah, Henry Shannon, and Carver Locke putting the Tigers up 8-3, less than three minutes into the game.
The Tigers would continue to extend their lead with back-to-back deep balls from Joey Brown IV before heading to the first media timeout with the Tigers up 16-7 over the Valor.
After a scoring drought by both teams that spanned nearly three minutes, James Evan II was fouled and drilled two free throws for the Tigers to extend their lead to 22-10 with 7:52 left in the first half.
In less than two minutes, the Valor would claw back into it.
The Valor made it a five point game with a 7-0 run as the Tigers lead was cut to 22-17 with 5:54 left to play in the first half.
The Valor would cut it to two after a pair of made free throws to make the score 28-26. Gacoby Jones responded with a 5-0 run of his own to give the Tigers a 33-26 lead with 22 seconds left in the first half.
Martinborough would continue his strong first half in the final seconds by drawing a foul and knocking down two free throws to cut the game to 33-28 before the half.
The second half started with both teams going back and forth, but the Valor slowly started to cut into the lead once again.
With 14:31 on the clock, Manrique Alvarado made a three-pointer to give the Valor their first lead since it was 3-2.
The Tigers struck back at the 11:25 mark with a Victor Munoz layup to take a 44-43 lead.
After a pair of layups, the Valor took back and extended their lead to 47-44 with under 10 minutes left to play.
They followed with a 6-0 run to push their lead to 51-45 with 7:55 left to play.
Autry Acord extended the Valor lead to 55-48 with a pullup jumper with 4:30 left to play.
Carver Locke delivered with a layup and a free throw on back-to-back possessions, to cut it to four 55-51 with 3:30 left on the clock.
But the Tigers would go scoreless over the next 2:03, while the Valor extended their lead to 59-51 before a Gacoby Jones three ball made it 59-54 with 1:27 to go.
The Tigers were forced to foul and Manrique Alvarado connected on two free throws to give the Valor a 61-54 lead.
Victor Munoz dropped in a layup with 46 seconds left to cut it to 63-56, but the Valor hit their foul shots and there wasn’t enough time on the clock for a comeback.
The Valor shot 52.2% (12-23) in the second half while the Tigers shot 41.7% (10-24).
The Valor outshot the Tigers in the game 48.7% (19-39) to 44.7% (21-47). The Tigers outshot the Valor from the three-point line at 25% (8-32) to 20% (3-15). The Valor outshot the Tigers from the free-throw line in the game 82.8% (24-29) to 50% (8-16). The Tigers narrowly out-rebounded the Valor in the game 28 to 27.
The Tigers were led by Gacoby Jones in the game with 12 points and six assists. Carver Locke added 11 points and four rebounds. Joey Brown IV added 10 points and four assists. Victor Munoz led the Tiger bench with six points and four rebounds.
The Valor advance to the second round of the tournament with the win.
The Tigers season comes to a close with a final record of 27-3.