SIOUX CITY, S.D. – The Indiana Wesleyan University men’s basketball team captured the 2018 NAIA Division II National Championship on Tuesday with an 84-71 victory over Saint Francis (Ind.). The red banner championship is the third in the past five years for the Wildcats, which is tied for the most in NAIA Division II history.
- NAIA DII National Championship Game
- Score: Indiana Wesleyan def. Saint Francis, 84-71
- Records: Indiana Wesleyan 31-7 | Saint Francis 29-9
- NAIA Top- 25 Rank: Indiana Wesleyan – No. 4 | Saint Francis – No. 7
- Championship Seeds: Indiana Wesleyan – No. 1 | Saint Francis – No. 2
- Location: Heritage Court | Sanford Pentagon | Sioux Falls, South Dakota
- Jacob Johnson: 14 points, 6-10 FG, 4 rebounds
- Evan Maxwell: 20 points, 9-13 FG, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks
- Kyle Mangas: 23 points, 8-15 FG, 5-5 FT, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
- Canaan Coffey: 12 points, 6-6 FT, 3 rebounds, 2 assists
- Grant Smith: 13 points, 5-7 FG, 4 rebounds, 4 assists
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Saint Francis raced out to a fast 7-2 lead just two minutes in. Over the next 13 minutes, Indiana Wesleyan outscored Saint Francis 34-12 to gain a 36-19 lead. USF scored 10 of the last 14 points in the first half as IWU led 40-29 at the break.
- The Wildcats scored the first six points of the second half to gain their largest lead of 17 at 46-29. But the Cougars roared back to score the next 11 points which began a 21-5 run to close the deficit to 51-50.
- Over the next six minutes, Indiana Wesleyan did not surrender the lead but the IWU advantage never moved to more than four points until an Evan Maxwell bucket with 4:38 left for a 66-61 lead.
- Leading 66-63, Indiana Wesleyan scored five straight to pull away 71-63 with 3:18 on the clock. A minute later, USF hit a 3 to cut the deficit to 73-68 but the Wildcats finally capped the victory with a 11-3 run to close the game and win the red banner.
- Kyle Mangas: Tournament Most Valuable Player, All-Tournament Team
- Evan Maxwell: All-Tournament Team
- Ben Carlson: Hustle Award
- Head Coach Greg Tonagel: NAIA DII National Coach of the Year, NABC NAIA Coach of the Year
- Indiana Wesleyan has won three national championships in five years. IWU has won titles in 2014, 2016, and 2018.
- Indiana Wesleyan has tied Bethel (Ind.), Cornerstone (Mich.), and Oregon Tech with the most NAIA Division II national championships with three.
- The Wildcats have won 20 national tournament games in the past five season. It the best five year runs in tournament history with Bethel when they won 20 games from the 1995-1999 seasons.
- The game was a rematch of the 2016 title game that Indiana Wesleyan also won, 69-66.
COACH TONAGEL SAYS…
- On what the team learned this past month…
“For three weeks we have been growing in joy. For three weeks we didn’t know what it would mean. As we kept going and kept journeying guys were hearing things and guys were teaching each other. And we get to this point in the national championship where we are in a huddle when the lead was cut to one, and I said here is what we are going to do, we are going to have some joy. No basketball strategy, we’re just going to have some joy. That just loosened our guys up. They know what they’re supposed to do. They just don’t need to play in fear at that moment and that’s what they did.”
- On seniors Ben Carlson and Jacob Johnson…
“I just love these guys for the men that they are. This is one of the best years of leadership we’ve had. They took a team that last year struggled with buy-in and we had apathy. They turned the team into some passion. The theme of the year was Hunger-Habits-Humility. Ben and Jacob drove a hunger into the team and helped form some habits. And here we are on the biggest stage and I think guys are showing a lot of humility right now.”
- On three championships in five years…
“It is not something I really thought would happen. It is hard to put it in words right now.”
- On Associate Head Coach Jeff Clark…
“What did I do this year to be effective? I let Jeff Clark do more this year. He ran the offense this year and really designed an offense that was unstoppable. Everyone gives the head coach credit which is unfair but I will be honest and tell you Jeff had an unbelievable year. Most people aren’t going to hear about it but he’s also not looking for credit. He coached his heart out this year.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE WILDCAT
- A National Championship Welcome Home Celebration will be on Wednesday sometime in the evening inside Luckey Arena. Follow IWU Athletics social media to track the arrival of the team and the start of the celebration!