SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A second-half surge carried the Indiana Wesleyan men’s basketball team to an opening round win Thursday in the NAIA Division II National Championship.
The Wildcats, led by Kyle Mangas and Evan Maxwell, scored 53 points in the final 20 minutes to down Antelope Valley (California) 87-76.
The No. 4 ranked and top-seeded Wildcats improve to 27-7. IWU will play No. 17 IU Southeast in the Round of 16 on Friday at 5 p.m.
The Wildcats trailed 35-34 at halftime versus the No. 8 seed after a poor shooting first half.
The duo of Maxwell and Mangas sparked a 20-4 second-half run, with Maxwell scoring 11 points in the pivotal stretch, to turn a 52-52 tie into a 16-point lead. Antelope Valley closed within six points late in the contest before the Wildcats put the game away.
Maxwell poured in 33 points on 14-20 shooting from the field. The transfer from Kansas had 21 points in the second half.
Freshman phenom Mangas, a WCHS product, scored 21 points. Mangas hit 9-12 free throws in the win and had three rebounds and two assists.
Mangas, the leading scorer on the season for the Wildcats, now has 739 points this year. That’s the second highest single-season total in program history. Lane Mahurin scored 756 points for the Wildcats during the 2016-17 season.
Mangas led the Wildcats to both the regular-season and tournament championships in the Crossroads League. He was named the League Player of the Year, the first freshman to receive the honor.
IWU connected on 18-27 shots in the second half to finish 31-60 for the game. The Wildcats were 19-25 from the free throw line and had a 38-26 rebounding advantage.