The Buena Vista men’s basketball team got 14 points from senior Jeff Janssen, 13 from junior Wes Nordquist, and 12 from senior Doug Bissen, to help lead the Beavers to a thrilling 54-52 victory over top-seed Coe College on Saturday night to capture the program’s seventh Iowa Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship and an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championships.
The Kohawks took a 48-46 lead with under five minutes to play before Bissen stepped to the foul line to sink a pair of free-throws to give him an even 1,000 career points and tie things back up at 48-48.
Nordquist then turned around and gave BVU the lead back at 50-48 with 3:30 to play and later extended the margin to three with 3:12 left by making one of two free-throws. He then came through yet again down the stretch to extend the lead to five with just under two minutes to play.
Coe wouldn’t go away, however, getting a pair of free-throws to claw back within 53-50 before two more free-throws made it a one point game with just over a minute to play. Nordquist, who hauled in 11 boards to surpass 600 in his career, came up with a defensive board and sank one more free-throw with 14 ticks left.
The Beavers then held tough in the closing seconds as Coe, coming out of a time out, had two shots in the final three seconds roll off the rim before the large Beaver student section that made the trip over stormed the floor in celebration.
Coe led by as many as six points early on before Janssen’s jumper gave the Beavers a 17-16 advantage, the team’s first lead since it was 3-2. He later nailed a three-ball that pushed the lead to 22-16, as BVU led at the half, 30-22.
The Kohawks came out with an 18-4 spurt to begin the second half and take a 40-34 lead with 11 minutes to play before Janssen sparked the Beavers back within two when he buried a three in front of his team’s bench and was fouled on the play, while calmly stepping to the line to sink the free-throw.
Nordquist tied things up at 40 with just over eight minutes to play and there were three more ties before the late-game drama.
Buena Vista, which improves to 6-0 all-time against the Kohawks during the IIAC Tournament, has now won five straight games overall this season to improve to 17-10.
It’s the first tournament championship for BVU since 2006.
The team will wait until Selection Monday to find out who and where they will play in the opening round of the NCAA Championships. Please stay tuned to the BVU athletics website for updates.
Check out photos of our student-athletes in action in the Beaver sports photo galleries.