The Buena Vista men’s basketball team will begin its quest for a seventh Iowa Conference Tournament title on Thursday night when the Beavers host sixth-seeded Simpson College in a 7:00pm tip-off inside of Siebens Fieldhouse. The Storm moved on after edging third-seeded University of Dubuque, 95-87, in double overtime on Tuesday evening.
BVU, winners of nine of its final 11 regular season games, earned the league’s #2 seed and a first round by with a conference mark of 11-5. The Beavers, who are 7-3 all-time as the second-seed, are also the only IIAC team to have qualified into all 14 of the IIAC Tournaments since the event began in 1999. The team’s 24 wins all-time during the tournament is the highest total among any other IIAC team. Non-qualifier Wartburg College is second with 15.
Playing inside of the friendly confines of Siebense Fieldhouse has also proved to be on the Beavers side over the years as well, where the team is 21-2 all-time in the postseason tournament.
Since dropping back-to-back three-point contests which followed a season-high six-game winning streak, the Beavers are back on another run of three straight wins – all coming by at least 10-points or more. Junior Wes Nordquist (Adel, Iowa/ADM), the reigning IIAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks, has been a force for the team during the current stretch, averaging 22 points and grabbing 9.3 rebounds. He’s shooting nearly 72 percent from the floor during that stretch and has sunk 20-of-21 attempts from the free-throw line. As a team, BVU is shooting right at 48 percent from the field in the three wins, while holding opponents to only 36 percent.
Senior Doug Bissen (Earling, Iowa/Harlan), who enters the semifinal match-up only 24 points shy of 1,000, is averaging 10.7 points over the final week of the regular season, while shooting right at 50 percent from the field and grabbing better than eight boards per contest. Should he reach the 1,000-point mark, he’d become only the 10th player in school history to have scored 1,000 career points and grabbed 500 career rebounds. Fellow senior Jeff Janssen (Fairmont, Minn./Fairmont) has also averaged double-figures during the same stretch (10.3ppg), while leading the team in three-point buckets this season with 54 long range treys. His 42 percent shooting from beyond the arc is also fifth-best in the league.
Senior Andy Puhrmann (Paullina, Iowa/South O’Brien) and freshman Alex Savage (Des Moines, Iowa/Dowling Catholic) have also been key contributors off the bench during the recent stretch, as both are averaging better than six points per game and each making four three-point baskets (8-of-13).
Defensively as a team, BVU is out-rebounding opponents by nearly nine boards per game and holding them to just 56 points over the last three games.
The Beavers and Storm meet for the third time this season and for the second time in the last two weeks. It’s also the second straight season the two have met in postseason play, as the Storm edged the Beavers in the first round of last year’s tournament in Indianola, 78-72. BVU’s last loss this season came in Indianola when Simpson edged the Beavers, 76-73, after BVU was whistled for a foul with 1.3 seconds left and the Storm made all three free-throws.
The teams enter play as the top-two scoring teams in the league this year, as the Beavers lead the way in field goal shooting with the Storm ranked third.
Nordquist has averaged 17 points in the first two meetings for BVU this season, connecting on 15-of-30 attempts from the floor, while also averaging 8.5 rebounds. Bissen is close behind, scoring 14.5 points and grabbing 6.0 rebounds. As a team, the Beavers are shooting 40 percent from the field against the Storm, but have connected on just 25 percent from downtown (11-of-40).
Simpson, who’s making back-to-back tournament appearances for the first time since qualifying into the first nine league tournaments, improved its overall season record to 12-13 with Tuesday’s win. It finished the conference regular season at 8-8. Zach Barragan led the Storm against the Spartans, turning in 28 points, on 11-of-17 shooting, including three of the team’s four three-pointers. He also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. Elijah Knox was right behind with 23 points, as Simpson shot 56 percent overall.
In the first meeting between the two teams this season back on January 11, Barragan, who ranks second in the conference in scoring at 16.3ppg, knocked down seven three-pointers and finished with a game-high 27 points, while Cornelius Mosby, who did not play Wednesday against Dubuque, followed with 15 points and 11 boards. Barragan made just one long range bucket in the recent meeting and finished with 16 points. Mosby, who made the three free-throws in the waning seconds, led the way with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Both teams shot better than 46 percent from the field in that contest.
The Storm are now 1-1 in their history as the number six seed and improve to 7-10 all-time in the conference tournament and 2-9 on the road.
Simpson is looking to advance into only its second-ever championship game, while the Beavers are going after their league-leading 11 championship game in the 14-year history of the event.
Thursday’s games will be televised locally on campus station UCN channel 3 with a live video stream available at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/bvu.portal#. The game can also be heard locally on 97.5FM KBVU with that audio stream available online at http://www.bvu.edu/athletics/broadcast/live-audio.dot.
Check out photos of our student-athletes in action in the Beaver sports photo galleries.