(Sugar Grove, IL.) – Waubonsee Community College held off a frantic rally by Moraine Valley Community College to win a 94-90 thriller over the visiting Cyclones. The Chiefs let a 19-point lead slip away in the final seven minutes of play before pulling out the victory by connecting on six free throws in the final 0:34 of play. With the narrow win Waubonsee improved to 10-7 overall and 2-0 in Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference (ISCC) play, while the Cyclones fell to 13-3 overall and 1-1 in league action.
The Chiefs started the game on an 11-0 run as sophomore center Josh McAuley tallied Waubonsee's initial eight points and Kriston Dixon completed a three-point play three minutes into the game. Moraine Valley finally got on the scoreboard with a free throw by Michael Drynan two minutes later. The Chiefs went ahead by 17 points at 31-14 when McAuley completed a three-point play of his own with seven minutes to go in the first half. Waubonsee extended its' lead to 19 points with a minute left before heading to the locker room ahead 46-31 at the break. The Chiefs held a dominating 31-11 rebounding advantage in the first half while also making 14 of 16 foul shots.
After a halftime ceremony recognizing the 2017-18 academic achievements of Waubonsees' student-athletes, coach Dave Heiss' Chiefs continued to make high marks on the court as well. Waubonsee maintained a double-digit lead throughout much of the second and led 74-55 with seven minutes left. That's when things began to get interesting and eventually nail-biting time for the Chiefs. The Cyclones made eight free throws and a pair of three-pointers as part of a 22-6 run to suddenly get within three points with 2:48 remaining. A personal foul and a technical foul led to a pair of free throws by Elijah Marto and another by McAuley to put the Chiefs in front 83-77 moments later. However, on the next Cyclones' possession McAuley was whistled for his fifth foul sending Waubonsee's leading scorer to the bench with 2:21 to go. Moraine Valley was unable to immediately take advantage and the Chiefs pushed the lead back up to nine points when Bradlee Mills scored an inside basket with 1:35 left.
The Cyclones then mounted a frantic rally as the Chiefs committed three fouls and turned the ball over twice in a short span of time. Moraine Valley converted those miscues into a 7-0 run to pull within two points at 86-84 with 1:13 remaining. A driving lay-up by Simeon Strauss with 0:59 to go put the Chiefs up by four before the Cyclones' Lawrence Pointer buried a trey to make it 88-87 with 0:47 left. A pair of free throws by Strauss moments later made it a three-point lead. Zion Fortune then connected on a long three-pointer to tie the game with 0:19 to go. Mills was then fouled on a drive to the basket and converted both charity tosses to make it 92-90 with 0:12 remaining. After a Moraine Valley timeout Fortune mishandled a lob toward the basket that was corralled by Mills and he was fouled with 0:02.9 left. A technical foul against the Cyclones gave the Chiefs four foul shots and Mills subsequently made two of them to clinch the game and allow Waubonsee to exhale.
McAuley, averaging 30.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game coming into the evening, finished with a game-high 27 points, snagged 20 rebounds, handed out five assists and blocked four shots. Mills finished with 22 points and seven boards, while Strauss booked 16 points. Dixon tallied a dozen points before fouling out with six minutes left in the game. Waubonsee out rebounded the Cyclones 55-31 and made 27 of 34 (79 percent) free attempts to overcome committing 32 turnovers. Jalen Hughes led Moraine Valley with 23 points, connecting of 15 of 16 attempts from the foul line. For the game the Cyclones went 32 of 44 (73 percent) from the line as the two teams were whistled for a combined 62 fouls in the intense battle.
The Chiefs play again next Tuesday, January 15 when they travel to Chicago Heights to battle Prairie State College. Dave Heiss' men's squad takes on the Pioneers at 7:15 p.m. (CDT) with Jim Williams' women's team set to play prior to that beginning at 5:15 p.m. (CDT). Waubonsee returns home next Thursday, January 17, when they host ISCC foe Morton College with the women's game starting at 5:15 p.m. and the men's contest at 7:15 p.m. in Erickson Hall. Both of those games can be seen 'live' on-line at www.GoChiefs.com