The Iowa Central men put together a strong first half, but 11th-ranked Indian Hills was able to overcome it here Saturday inside Hodges Fieldhouse.
Behind the efforts of Tyem Freeman and Tyrese Nickelson, the Warriors pulled away for an 85-68 victory. Freeman scored a game-high 27 points with Nickelson adding 26 for Indian Hills (16-2 overall, 16-2 in ICCAC).
Iowa Central raced out to a 14-1 lead behind buckets from Ngambi, Keck, Jaxon Smith and Uzo Dibiamaka, pushing the advantage to as many as 15 midway through the opening half. The Tritons shot 45 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes and made five 3-pointers.
"That was one of the best 20 minutes of basketball we have played this year," Iowa Central head coach Chad Helle said. "We moved the ball, we took good shots and on defense, we played great. But against an athletic, deep team like Indian Hills, you just cannot have a letdown for an extended period of time.
"In the second half, we got caught and they took advantage."
The Warriors used a 10-0 run to take a 58-48 lead in the second and never looked back. Freeman had a 10-0 run of his own during a critical stretch that saw the deficit grow to 21.
Curtis Jones and Chris Payton had 14 and 11 points for Indian Hills, with Payton adding 13 rebounds. Jones had nine boards and five assists. The Warriors have now won eight in a row, including a recent victory over No. 1 (Div. II) Des Moines Area.
"We do good things for stretches of the game, and bad things for other stretches," Helle said. "Hopefully, we can put together a complete, 40-minute game here and take that momentum into the postseason."
Smith and Dibiamaka each had eight points for the Tritons with Jett Pinneo adding six.
Iowa Central heads to Estherville on Wednesday to face Iowa Lakes before returning home next Saturday vs. Southeastern. Both games tip at 7 p.m.
-By Dana Becker