Ottumwa -- Devontae Lane won't forget anytime soon his first college basketball game. The freshman guard drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift Indian Hills to a dramatic 86-84 win over upset-minded Johnson County on Friday night at the Hellyer Center. Lane's shot from the right wing came after a perfect pass in transition from Antonio "Booman" Williams, his 6th and final assist of the night, that allowed the Warriors to avoid losing their first home-opener in 31 years.
Lane's shot was from almost the identical spot on the floor where sophomore Jamel Allen had buried consecutive 3s in the final two minutes, the second one coming with 1:02 remaining. That bucket gave IHCC a short-lived 83-82 lead. Johnson County's Berlin Roberson answered with a shot in the lane on the Cavaliers' next possession to put them back on top, 84-83. Following an Indian Hills turnover, Johnson County (No. 17 in NJCAA Division II) ran the shot clock all the way down, but missed an attempt that would have made it a 3-point game. Rob Montgomery grabbed the rebound for the Warriors and hit Williams with an outlet pass and, with only seven seconds to get a shot off, Indian Hills used all of that time to set up Lane for the game-winner.
Roberson was outstanding for the Cavaliers, scoring their last nine points. He was forced to sit out a good chunk of the second half after picking up his fourth foul, but returned just in time to give Johnson County a good chance to knock off the 6th-ranked Warriors. He wound up with game-high 25 points.
Ivan Aurrecoechea led IHCC with 16 points and added 12 rebounds. Shane Gatling and Williams added 15 each and Allen had 10, all in the second half. Gatling sparked the Indian Hills offense with 13 first-half points, coming off the bench to hit four of his first six shots, including a trio of 3-pointers. His only second-half points came on a breakaway dunk that gave IHCC a 75-71 advantage with around three minutes left to play. But just when it looked like the Warriors would finally get some breathing room against the Cavaliers, JCCC came back to score seven of the next nine points to take a 78-77 lead with 2:10 remaining.
Johnson County was up 13-10 when the Warriors got back-to-back buckets from Montgomery and James Jean-Marie to take a lead they wouldn't relinquish the rest of the opening half. The largest margin was 10 just before halftime. Roberson quickly sliced that lead in half, scoring the final five points of the half. He and sophomore Anthony Lupardus combined for 23 of Johnson County's 37 first-half points. Lupardus ended the night with 15 points and teammates Mat Baldeh and Xavier Womack had 11 each.
After shooting only 41 percent in the opening period, Indian Hills came back to make 55 percent of its shots after halftime. They were 6-for-19 on 3s until draining their last three shots from behind the arc.
Not only did the Warriors barely keep their streak of home-opening victories alive, but they also extended their number of wins in season-openers, regardless where they've been played, to 29, which stretches back to the start of the 1988-89 campaign.
Indian Hills concludes play in the Reed Overhead Doors Classic with a matchup against Mesa (Ariz.) on Saturday night. Mesa dropped an 87-77 decision to Kirkwood CC Friday.
INDIAN HILLS 86, JOHNSON COUNTY 84
Ivan Aurrecoechea 6 4-8 16, Jamel Allen 4 0-0 10, Antonio Williams 7 1-1 15, Tomas Woldetensae 2 0-0 5, Shane Gatling 6 0-0 15, Connor Murrell 2 0-0 5, Devontae Lane 2 2-2 8, Rob Montgomery 2 2-2 6, James Jean-Marie 3 0-0 6, Javier Valeiras 0 0-0 0 Team 34 9-13 86
Mat Baldeh 3 2-2 11, Anthony Lupardus 6 1-2 15, Berlin Roberson 9 5-6 25, Marquawn Wilson 2 1-2 5, Malik Jackson 1 0-0 2, General Williams 1 0-0 2, Xavier Womack 5 0-0 11, Derek Janssen 0 0-0 0, Evan Morrison 3 0-0 7, Meli McKinney 0 0-0 0, Derrell McLemore 3 0-1 6 Team 33 9-12 84
Halftime score: Indian Hills 42, Johnson County 37; Three-point field goals: IHCC 9 (Gatling 3, Allen 2, Lane 2, Woldetensae 1, Murrell 1), JCCC 9 (Baldeh 3, Roberson 2, Lupardus 2, Womack 1, Morrison 1)