Marshalltown, Iowa -- Indian Hills opened up a big second-half lead, then held Marshalltown at bay down the stretch as the Warriors secured at least a tie for the program's 10th consecutive regular-season conference championship, knocking off the Tigers, 74-69, Saturday night at the Student Activities Center. The victory was No. 27 without a loss for IHCC and their sixth straight in league action.
The other two unbeatens remaining in NJCAA Division I at the start of the day -- Northwest Florida State and Vincennes (Ind.) -- both lost on the road Saturday night, which means the Warriors, who were ranked 2nd in the latest DI poll, between Northwest Florida and Vincennes, will likely ascend to the top spot when the new rankings come out on Tuesday.
Marshalltown (16-10, 2-5) had dropped a 28-point decision to the Warriors last month at the Hellyer Center, but refused to go quietly in this contest, despite falling behind 61-45 with around seven minutes to play.
Mohamed Thiam, who led all scorers with 32 points, helped fuel a 12-2 MCC run and his 3-pointer in the final half-minute brought the Tigers to within five points, the closest they were the entire second half after IHCC's Rob Montgomery's basket started the scoring in the final period.
The last 11 points for the Warriors came from the free throw line. They were 11-of-12 in the last 1:37 and 25-of-28 for the game, compared to MCC's 7-of-9 total at the stripe.
Devontae Lane accounted for Indian Hills' last field goal, a bank shot with just under three minutes left that made the score 63-55. Lane tallied a season-high 17 points to lead IHCC. He made all five of his field-goal attempts and 7-of-8 foul shots. Shane Gatling scored 16 and Antonio "Booman" Williams 12 in the Warriors' 13th straight win against Marshalltown.
Ivan Aurrecoechea returned to action after missing the previous three games with an ankle injury. He scored eight points and grabbed nine rebounds, five on the offensive glass, while playing 22 minutes.
Indian Hills never trailed, jumping out to a quick 12-5 advantage and building the lead to 30-19 with 3:06 to go in the half. Marshalltown finished the opening period by making four threes in a row, the first three by Kelton Edwards and the last one by Thiam, to get to within 34-31 at the break.
Montgomery and Lane had two buckets each at the outset of the second half and the IHCC lead eventually reached 16 until the late comeback attempt by the Tigers.
With two conference games left, the Warriors lead second-place Iowa Western by two games.
The last two home dates of the regular season are coming up this week for Indian Hills. They'll host Ellsworth CC on Wednesday and Northeast (Neb.) Saturday.
INDIAN HILLS 74, MARSHALLTOWN 69
Ivan Aurrecoechea 3 2-4 8, Jamel Allen 1 2-2 4, Antonio Williams 4 4-4 12, Tomas Woldetensae 2 2-2 7, Shane Gatling 4 6-6 16, Devontae Lane 5 7-8 17, Rob Montgomery 4 0-0 8, James Jean-Marie 0 2-2 2, Javier Valeiras 0 0-0 0 Team 23 25-28 74
Mohamed Thiam 13 4-5 32, Oscar Kao 4 0-0 10, Kelton Edwards 5 0-0 14, Eduardo Lane 2 0-0 4, Bassirou Ndiaye 0 0-0 0, Javarcus Word 1 0-0 3, Berk Karadan 0 0-0 0, Goran Vidovic 1 0-0 3, JJ Foster 0 3-4 3, Eric Ting 0 0-0 0 Team 26 7-9 69
Halftime score: Indian Hills 34, Marshalltown 31; Three-point field goals: IHCC 3 (Gatling 2, Woldetensae 1), MCC 10 (Edwards 4, Thiam 2, Kao 2, Word 1, Vidovic 1)