The Buena Vista men’s basketball team extended its current win streak to four and now has itself one win away from yet another NCAA Tournament berth, as it topped visiting Simpson College (12-14) on Thursday night, 86-70, in the semifinal round of the Iowa Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament.
BVU won the opening-tip and never looked back. Senior Jeff Janssen (Fairmont, Minn./Fairmont), started things out for the blue and gold, as he made a long range bucket, giving BVU the 3-0 lead. Junior Wes Nordquist (Adel, Iowa/ADM), who came in with three-straight 20-plus point games, was instrumental for the Beavers in the opening half, posting a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 11 boards. BVU jumped out to the quick 7-0 lead and maintained that margin until bumping it into double-digits at the 6:00 mark of the half.
Simpson cut the lead to nine with 1:57 left in the first half before BVU went on a 7-2 run to close out the half and take a 14-point lead (46-32) into intermission. Janssen again started the late surge as he hit a three from the corner off an assist from freshman Alex Savage (Des Moines, Iowa/Dowling Catholic). Fellow senior Mike Elming (Johnston, Iowa/Johnston) broke loose, and after missing a jumper, grabbed his own rebound and put it back in for two. Janssen then capped the scoring run for the Beavers as he drove the baseline and made the layup over the Simpson defender.
The Beavers, which connected on 56 percent of their field goal attempts in the first half, maintained the double-digit lead over the final 20 minutes To open, Elming made a layup and was fouled, while making his free-throw to complete the three-point play. The Storm tried to make a run and get back within striking distance, but BVU seemed to have an answer each time. The Beavers’ largest lead came with just over 14 minutes to go, as they took a commanding 23 point lead, 59-36.
BVU used a balanced scoring attack to keep the Storm at bay as five players scored in double digits. Nordquist led BVU scorers with 19 points and also grabbed 15 rebounds. Janssen scored 12 points, making two from downtown, while senior Doug Bissen (Earling, Iowa/Harlan) also scored 12. Elming and sophomore Michael Kaufmann both chipped in with 11 points, while also dishing out three assists each.
BVU did a lot of its work at the free-throw in the contest, connecting on 27-of-37 attempts, while the Storm attempted only nine.
The win moves Coach Van Haaften’s squad to 16-10 overall this season and sends it onto its 11th IIAC Tournament Championship game in 14 years.
The Beavers will look to capture its league-high seventh tournament championship on Saturday night, February 25, when it travels to Cedar Rapids to take on top-seed Coe College. BVU is the only team to knock off the Kohawks on their home court this season, when it picked up a 75-61 victory back on January 14. Tip-off inside of Eby Fieldhouse is slated for 7:00pm.
--Written by BVU Sports Information Student-Worker, Kylie Swanson
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