INDIANOLA, Iowa - The University of Dubuque men's basketball team locked in a berth in the 2015 Iowa Conference Tournament after a 78-65 road victory on Wednesday night. The Spartans maintained within striking distance of the league leader and received some help from Central College after they beat Coe 78-75 to give the Spartans sole possession of second place with just three league contests remaining.
Lucas Ware maintained the hot hand as he is sizzling in the second half ot the season by leading a quartet of starters in scoring with 17 points. Gage Heffernan scored 17 points and led the Spartans in rebounding with a team high 10 boards, including eight defensive grabs. Andre Norris sank 6-11 attempts from the field to finish the evening with 14 points as Brandon Ferguson added 13 points. UD made 30-62 shots from the foor (48.4%) and dominated the inside game by scoring 44 points in the paint. Simpson's bench would out score the Spartans, but it wasn't needed when UD's starters set the pace early.
UD's defense would hold the Storm to 25 points in the first half after they scored 15 points off Storm turnovers to lead 33-25. The Storm made just nine baskets in the opening half and were out scored in the final 20 minutes of play 45-40.
Time is running out of the regular IIAC season with just three games remaining. UD (18-4, 8-3 in IIAC) is just a game away from league leading Buena Vista University (16-6, 9-2 in IIAC) and moved a game ahead of Coe (13-9, 7-4 in IIAC). The Spartans travel to face the Wartburg College Knights (13-9, 6-5 in IIAC) on Saturday, Feb. 14 before returning home to host Buena Vista on Wednesday, Feb. 18 and Luther College (8-14, 4-7 in IIAC) in their final regular season game on senior night on Jon Davison Court in Stoltz Sports Center.
The race for the championship is winding down with leader Buena Vista hosting Simpson on Feb. 14, at UD on Feb. 18 and at Coe College (13-9, 7-4 in IIAC). Coe's final three match-ups are at Loras on Feb. 14, at Simpson on Feb. 18 and hosting Buena Vista on Feb. 21. Fourth place Wartburg host the Spartans on Saturday before ending the IIAC season at Luther College (8-14, 4-7 in IIAC) and at Central College (12-10, 5-6 in IIAC).