Historic Season for Tiger Basketball

Mt. Pleasant, IA- The season might be over for both Iowa Wesleyean men’s and women’s basketball teams but what a year it has been for both teams as Head Coach for the women’s team, Steve Williamson, broke Olan Ruble’s win total midway through the season and first year Head Coach for the men’s team, Jordan Ashton, led the Tigers to their first top-25 ranking since the 2010-2011 season. Here is a look at the high points for the season.

In November, the men’s team were starting to hit their stride having won 7 games in a row before running into the #13 William Penn Statesmen at Ruble Arena. Despite the ostensible mismatch, the Tigers went on a 13 to 0 run in the second half to take a commanding lead. The Statesmen would cut it close but be unable to recover as Iowa Wesleyan pulled off the upset 85-81 to extend their win streak to 8 games.

On the women’s side of things, Isabell West, a transfer from Murray State, was named Continental Athletic Conference (CAC) Women’s Basketball Player of the Week after her phenomenal performance against College of the Ozarks in a 68-65 thriller in December. In this back-and-forth contest at Ruble Arena, West would put up 35 points in the contest and pull down 12 rebounds in the winning effort. Her 35-point performance was 4 points short of Brittany West’s record, her sister, set a season ago in the opening round of the NAIA National Tournament.

Fast forwarding to January, Head Coach Steve Williamson finally broke Olan Ruble’s career victory mark at 275 games after defeating Crowley’s Ridge College 68-37. The win was also Williamson’s 353rd career win as this is his second stint with the Tigers and in his first year he claimed the CAC championship and CAC Coach of the Year.

On the men’s side of things, the Tigers found themselves ranked #25 in the midst of a 15-game winning streak and being led by Henry Shannon who was averaging 13.5 points per game. This was the first time the Tigers had been ranked since the 2010-2011 season. They would improve to #23 by the end of the month as they had improved their win streak to 18 games and a 19-1 record on the season. The Tigers would win two more games to bring the program’s longest winning streak to 20 games.

In February, Isabell West was again named CAC Women’s Basketball Player of the Week as she was helping the team ride an 11-game winning streak to the end of the season. In her two games that week against Crowley’s Ridge College and Northern New Mexico College she tallied 41 points and 19 rebounds as well as shooting 9 of 10 from the free throw line against Northern New Mexico College. Later in the month, Kyla Moore would take home her own CAC Player of the Week as shed averaged 25 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3 assists over her two games against Baptist Bible College and Trinity Christian College. Moore was also 18-20 from the free throw line over the two-game span. The Tigers would then capture the 1 seed for the CAC tournament as they were looking to repeat as champions. They would succeed in that mission as they came back from behind against Haskell Indian Nations to take it 64-59. West secured a double-double with 25 points and 14 rebounds in the win.

In terms of conference awards, Kyla Moore captured 1st Team All-Conference. Breanna Wendland took home 2nd Team All-Conference. Brielle Baker was recognized as the Champion of Character. Steve Williamson was named CAC Coach of the Year for the 2nd year in a row. Lastly, Isabell West took home three awards in 1st Team All-Conference, Newcomer of the Year, and Player of the Year as she averaged 18.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.

The men’s team entered the CAC tournament as the #2 seed and almost on the wrong end of an upset in the opening round against Haskell Indian Nations. Nevertheless, Henry Shannon would tip the ball in at the buzzer to end up taking the game 67-65. After skating past Washington Adventist University, the Tigers would be matched up against the team that ended their win streak, the Florida College Falcons. This rematch would go the Tigers way 70-66 as Joey Brown IV splashed 5 three-points in the contest to end the game with 19 points. Gacoby Jones was named CAC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament with Joey Brown IV, Henry Shannon, and Hakeem Odunsi were named to the CAC All-Tournament team. This was men’s first time winning the conference championship since 2011.

In terms of conference awards, Henry Shannon was named 1st Team All-Conference as he averaged 13.1 points per game and 1.5 blocks per game as a freshman. Gacoby Jones earned honorable mention All-Conference honors along with Joey Brown IV. Jones averaged 11.7 points per game and Brown averaged 10.3 points per game. Additionally, in his first year at the helm, Jordan Ashton took home CAC Coach of the Year as he led the team to a 24-2 regular season record and a #23 ranking after the program finished 12-19 last season.

The women’s team would claim the 15th seed in the NAIA National Tournament and finish the season with a 23-7 record. The men’s team would earn the 7th seed in the NAIA National Tournament and finish the season with a 27-3 record.