The short-handed Iowa Central men's basketball team made quick work of Clinton here Saturday, rolling to a 72-45 victory for their fifth win in seven games.
Sophomore guard Rhys Elliot scored 20 points to pace the Tritons (11-9 overall, 2-3 in the ICCAC), who pulled away early with a 22-1 first-half run. Post players David Andersen and Chris Tawiah combined for 29 points in the paint to flank Elliot's efforts, as Iowa Central cruised despite being without the services of regulars Jesse Jones and Jaleel Gray.
''We did a pretty good job in the first half of not turning the ball over (the Tritons committed just two turnovers) and getting good looks underneath with Andersen and Tawiah,'' Iowa Central head coach Dennis Pilcher said. ''I thought our offense was clicking and it could've been even better had we made our free throws (the Tritons were 4-for-12 at the line before the intermission).
''We've asked Rhys to handle the ball more the past few games (with Jones and Gray out), but he still had a productive day and I actually think he could've shot a little more than he did. It's not always easy to stay focused when you're up by 20 before (the break), but we were able to stay fairly steady and keep them from making any serious runs.''
Andersen, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, and Tawiah - a 6-9 freshman - gave the Cougars (5-11, 1-4) fits on the low blocks. Eighteen of the duo's points came as Iowa Central was methodically pulling away in the first half, when a 12-10 advantage eventually ballooned to 33-11 after back-to-back traditional three-point plays converted by Tawiah.
Pilcher also praised the effort of Puot Kudhot, a freshman guard making just his second start of the year. Kudhot held Clinton's leading scorer, Xzavion Jones, to 11 points - four under his average.
IOWA CENTRAL 72, CLINTON 45
Iowa Central - Rhys Elliot 8-15 2-2 20, David Andersen 5-11 7-11 17, Puot Kudhot 3-8 1-2 8, Jawad Adekoya 3-9 0-4 7, Casey Sieren 3-5 0-0 6, Chris Tawiah 5-8 2-2 12, Dean Wanliss 1-1 0-1 2, Rafael Cardenas 0-1 0-0 0, Jerel Rose 0-0 0-0 0, Malik Brooks 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 28-58 12-22 72.
Clinton - Charles Pemberton 6-7 1-3 13, Xzavion Jones 5-12 1-1 11, Virshaun Grant 4-8 1-2 10, James Randolph 2-5 2-2 6, Richard Hurt 1-9 1-1 3, Kimani Stevens 1-1 0-0 2, Dione Blyden 0-4 0-0 0, BeeJay Caleb 0-0 0-0 0, Dane Barun 0-0 0-0 0, Andrew Temperly 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-46 6-9 45.
Halftime score: Iowa Central led, 36-17. Three-point goals: Iowa Central 4-12 (Elliot 2-5, Adekoya 1-3, Kudhot 1-2, Sieren 0-1, Cardenas 0-1); Clinton 1-13 (Grant 1-4, Hurt 0-4, Blyden 0-3, Jones 0-2). Turnovers: Iowa Central 7, Clinton 18. Total fouls: Iowa Central 10, Clinton 15.
''Puot gave us some quality minutes,'' Pilcher said. ''When you lose Jesse (groin injury) and Jaleel (concussion), it puts more pressure on other guys to step up. It can also be a blessing in disguise down the stretch, because you get Puot experience he otherwise wouldn't have and that will give us more versatility when Jesse and Jaleel come back hopefully Wednesday.''
The Tritons head to Estherville for a twinbill against Iowa Lakes on Wednesday. The women tip at 5:30 p.m. with the men to follow.