The men's basketball game between Iowa Wesleyan University and Webster University lived up to its billing as the SLIAC Game of the Week with Iowa Wesleyan using a late three-pointer to edge past Webster. Iowa Wesleyan's Elijah Johnson hit a three-pointer with three-seconds on the clock to secure the Tigers an 85-84 win.
Iowa Wesleyan overcame a 12-point deficit in the final three minutes of the game to jump into a tie for first place in the SLIAC standings with a 4-1 conference record. Webster jumped out to a quick lead in the game, holding an 18-point lead late in the first-half thanks in large part to out rebounding the Tigers 25-14 in the opening half including nine offensive rebounds.
Iowa Wesleyan was able to shrink the Gorlok lead back down to single digits late in the half when Steven Soukup sparked a mini-run for the Tigers with Brock Butler scoring the final five points of the half for the Tigers as Webster took a 36-30 lead into the break.
The Tiger defense held Webster to just two points in the first four minutes of the second half but a dry spell by the Tigers helped Webster hold off a Tiger run. After a jumper by Jonathan Odjo Webster held a 12-point lead with 3:11 on the clock and appeared headed towards recording a key conference win.
However, that is when the Tigers made one final push, led by a pressure defense. CJ Singeltary started the Tigers' run with a layup. Michael Soukup then stole the ball on the next Webster possession and dished it to an open Elijah Johnson for a three to cut the lead to 76-69. After another Webster turnover, Brock Butler drew a foul and sank a pair of free throws to close the game to within five points. Michael Soukup swiped the ball once again with Singletary drawing a foul and hitting a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession. Michael Soukup, who had sparked the Tigers with his defense, was on the offensive side on the next trip with another steal and fast break layup to cut the score to 76-75.
Webster senior Hunter Ward stopped the Tiger run with a layup of his own but the Tigers answered right back when Austin Walker grabbed an offensive rebound and hit two free-throws after drawing a foul on the play. Down by four points Butler hit a three to make the score 81-80 with just 48-seconds remaining.
Ward again extended the Webster lead to four points by hitting a free throw with 18-seconds left. Austin Walker closed the score to 84-82 with a jumper with nine-seconds left. The Gorloks had a chance to extend the lead but missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving the Tigers and their fans hope.
That hope arrived in the form of Johnson. Michael Soukup grabbed the rebound off the missed free throw, and with the Gorloks back in a prevent defense, was able to bring the ball quickly up court. Soukup dribbled into the lane and cut right at the free-throw line kicking the ball back to Johnson who was coming around a pick at the top of the key from the right side of the court. Johnson sank the three with three-second on the clock to give Iowa Wesleyan their first and only lead of the game. Webster was unable to get a final shot off as Iowa Wesleyan improves to 8-4 overall.
Brock Butler led all scorers with 26 points for Iowa Wesleyan while Elijah Johnson came off the bench to score 16 points including the game winning shot. Steven Soukup added 14 points, eight rebounds, and six assists while Michael Soukup finished with 6 points, 10 assists, and 5 steals.
Webster falls to 5-6 overall and 2-2 in the SLIAC with Hunter Ward scoring a team high 19 points. Evan Milligan added 17 points and Xavier Dortch finished with 12 points and five assists off the bench.