CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – 7th-ranked Nebraska Wesleyan overcame a one-point halftime deficit by shooting 63.6 percent in the second half as the Prairie Wolves came away with a hard fought 84-78 road victory over 2nd place Coe College on Wednesday night (Feb. 5) at Kohawk Arena in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
With the victory, the Prairie Wolves move to 12-0 in American Rivers Conference play to clinch at least a share of the regular season championship for the fourth straight season. Coe drops to 7-4 in league play and 12-8 overall with their second six-point loss to the Prairie Wolves this season.
Nebraska Wesleyan trailed 33-32 at halftime, but came back to score 52 points in the second half making 21-33 of their field goal attempts including six 3-pointers.
The lead changed five times to begin the second half with Coe getting up by as many as five points with 14:27 remaining. From there the Prairie Wolves got a fire lit on the sidelines following a technical on head coach Dale Wellman.
NWU turned that five point deficit into a nine-point lead outscoring the Kohawks 17-3 over a five minute stretch capped by a 3-pointer from Jack Hiller with just under 10 minutes to play to give NWU a 59-50 advantage. Coe was able to get back within two points, but each time they got close the Prairie Wolves responded.
Most of the big responses were by senior guard Nate Schimonitz who finished with a game-high 33 points. Schimonitz scored 21 of his points in the second half, including 12 in the final ten minutes during crunch time. Schimonitz was 13-21 from the field, 3-6 on 3-pointers and led the team with eight assists to add to his conference leading totals.
The Prairie Wolves were down one starter for the majority of each half during the game. In the first half, guard Jack Hiller was poked in the eye in the opening minute and did not return until the second half. Then Clay Reimers was sidelined the majority of the second half with foul trouble playing only 24 total minutes.
Reimers finished with 14 points on 7-9 shooting as one of three NWU players in double figures. Nate Bahe just missed a double-double with 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
As a team, the Prairie Wolves ended the game shooting 56.7 percent from the floor for the game to improve on their NCAA III leading average. In the second half, NWU missed 12 total shots and only four inside the 3-point line.
Coe was able to stay in the game thanks to their strong 3-point shooting. The Kohawks buried 12 total trifectas, hitting six in each half. Josh Schmitt led the way with 18 points, making 6-11 on his 3-point attempts. Austin Roth scored 16 points with seven assists and six rebounds.
Nebraska Wesleyan has now won nine straight games to move to 19-2 overall. The Prairie Wolves extend their regular season conference winning streak to 18 straight games. They look to continue the streak and win the conference outright on Saturday at Luther College.