CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Coe College scored over half its points from the free throw line thursday night, as the Iowa Conference regular season Champions advanced to the IIAC Tournament Finals with a 67-57 win over Luther.
The two teams battled back-and-forth, as the game was tied six times and their were eight lead changes. Neither team led by more than four in the first 31:38 of the game. Luther led 6-4 on a jumper from Tyler Wedemeier with 17:03 to play in the first half before Coe went on a 7-1 run in the next 2:08 to take an 11-7 lead with 14:36 remaining in the half. Coe led 16-14 when the Norse went on a 9-3 run, taking a 23-19 lead with 4:29 left in the half. A jumper by Luther's Dane Larson with :51 left in the half gave the Norse a 25-23 lead at the break.
Larson hit a jumper :52 into the second half before Coe responded with an 8-1 run to take a 31-28 lead with 17:35 to play. A 6-2 run by Luther gave them a 34-33 lead with 14:26 to play before the Kohawks took over for good. Junior Garrett Cross (Spring Grove, Minn./Spring Grove) hit a pair of free throws with 13:51 to play, sparking a 16-4 Coe run over the next 7:59. The Kohawks led by as much as 14 with :51 to play, but sealed the game at the free throw line in the second half, where they were 28-of-33.
Junior David Mataloni (Urbandale, Iowa/Urbandale) scored a game-high 24 points to lead the Kohawks. He was 12-of-13 from the free throw line and surpassed the 400 point mark for the year, the 26th player to do that in school history. Cross added 14 points, as he was 14-of-16 from the charity stripe, a career-high for both Cross and Mataloni. Senior Kevin Gaster (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Jefferson) added eight points.
Sophomore Andrew Wirth (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cedar Falls), senior Jake Raney (Owatonna, Minn./Owatonna) and junior Seth Light (Carlisle, Iowa/Carlisle) each added seven points. Larson led the Norse with 23 points on 8-of-17 shooting.
Junior Nathan Joens (Swisher, Iowa/Xavier) had a team-high nine rebounds, while Gaster and Wirth added seven. Wirth tied a career-high with the seven boards from earlier this season. Gaster and Mataloni each had two assists, while Joens blocked a career-high two shots. With one block, Light moved into fourth on the career list with 66.
Coe will host league runner-up Buena Vista in the finals on Saturday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Eby Fieldhouse. This will be Coe's third trip to the finals, having faced Buena Vista in the finals the previous two times. Coe is 0-5 all-time against the Beavers in the Iowa Conference Tournament.