116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - The Aussie was not lacking confidence.
James Boonstoppel's 3-pointer with 50 seconds gave the Mount Mercy men a five-point lead and propelled the 13th-ranked Mustangs past Grand View, 72-61, last night in the semifinals of the Midwest Collegiate Conference basketball tournament at Hennessey Recreation Center.
'My teammates and my coaches kept believing in me and I ended up believing in myself and I hit the big shot,” said Boonstoppel, a 6-foot-2 senior guard from Adelaide, Australia.
'I figured I was open, I was just going to knock it down,” said Boonstoppel, a 41.7 percent 3-point shooter during the season who was 0-for-2 from distance before knocking down the shot that gave the Mustangs a 65-60 lead.
Top-seeded Mount Mercy had beaten No. 5 seed Grand View (16-13) twice during the regular season, a double overtime decision at Des Moines and a 15-point win six days ago at home.
'We knew they were going to play aggressive and tough,” Boonstoppel said.
The Vikings battled back from a 13-point first half deficit to take one-point leads twice in the second half, the last with 6:01 to play.
'We got a little stagnant on offense,” Mount Mercy Coach Paul Gavin said. 'We weren't great, but good enough to win.”
Mount Mercy shot 42.3 percent from the field and 62.9 percent from the free throw line, but made 7 of 8 free throws in the final 33 seconds to ice the win.
'The right guys were shooting there late,” Gavin said.
Grand View limited Mount Mercy leading scorer Dondre Osborne to four points in the second half, although he did finish with a game-high 17.
Ian Matos added 11, Alex Houston 10 and Ben Struss nine. Boonstoppel had five.
The Mustangs (25-4) host third-seeded William Penn (19-11) in Sunday's championship game at 6 p.m. The Statesmen beat AIB, 71-63, last night at Des Moines. The winner of Sunday's game receives the conference's automatic berth into the NAIA Division II tournament.
Mount Mercy has beaten William Penn twice.
The Statesmen lost in the national championship game two years ago and reached the Elite Eight last year.
Regardless of Sunday's outcome, with 25 wins and a top 15 ranking the Mustangs seem to be assured of at least an at-large berth into the 32-team national tournament field.
But don't try to tell that to Gavin.
'I'm probably 95 percent sure that we're in, it might be higher than that,” he said. 'But the coach in me thinks more about the 5 percent.”