• Marion, Indiana

News for IWU’s Campus

Late Defense Propels Wildcats Over Knights

The No. 5 IWU men’s basketball team defeated Marian University 82-78 on Saturday. Two late blocks and a pair of free throws helped lift the Wildcats to victory. 

“(Marian’s) a tough team,” head coach Greg Tonagel said. “That’s a reflection of coach Heady. I’ve always had a lot of respect for what he does with his teams. They battled, I mean, we couldn’t put them away.” 

The Wildcats led for 34 minutes and by as many as 14 points, but a pair of free throws by Marian’s Maximus Gizzi with two minutes left tied the game at 75. After trading baskets, free throws from IWU’s Nathan Childress and Griffin Kliewer put the Wildcats up for good. 

“We’ve been working on all year just staying tough and winning close games,” sophomore Javan Buchanan said. “In this conference, it’s always going to be close games no matter what a team is ranked. You just have to keep fighting every game because every game is a hard game.”

Caedmon Bontrager paced the team, scoring 26 points and adding nine rebounds, but it was Bontrager’s block with four seconds remaining that sealed the game. 

“I think the theme for this week was just to elevate others and make a play for your teammates,” Bontrager said. “So that’s what I did in the end, and I say that’s what every guy did. And I think that’s what led us to stay in the game and keep us in the game to beat them.”

Bontrager, a redshirt freshman, has been a key contributor for the Wildcats this season. Through 19 games he leads the country in field goal percentage, shooting a scorching 85% from the field.

“He had a game-winning block,” Tonagel said of Bontrager. “For him to go get that, you know, at that point in the game was crucial. He just continues to come along. I mean, to have that coming off of the bench, with his size and athleticism, we’re very proud of his growth.”

The win improves the Wildcats to 17-2 overall and 8-1 in the Crossroads League. IWU ranks second in the Crossroads and will play the fourth, first, and third teams in the league over the next two weeks. 

“We have a bye week coming up, which is a great opportunity to work on stuff,” Tonagel said. “We’ll balance giving our guys Monday off but then also utilize Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday as preparation for going on the road.”

The Wildcats will play on the road at Huntington on Saturday, Jan. 27 before taking on undefeated and No. 1-ranked Grace at home on Wednesday, Jan. 31.

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