Top-ranked Indian Hills breaks free of MCC men

OTTUMWA – A dominant first half from the Marshalltown Community College men’s basketball team was not enough to take down NJCAA No. 1-ranked Indian Hills on Saturday night as the Tigers fell to the top-ranked Warriors 104-93 at the Hellyer Center.

Mike Rodriguez and Troidell Carter combined for 66 points as the Tigers’ four-game winning streak was snapped, dropping MCC to 16-13 overall and 2-6 in Iowa Community College Athletic Conference Division I play. The Warriors improved to 7-1 in league play and 28-2 overall.

Carter posted a career-high 33 points for his fifth straight game of at least 20 points. The sophomore also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the year.

Rodriguez also went for a career-high with 33 points while shooting 11-of-11 from the free-throw line. As a team, the Tigers went 29-for-35 from the charity stripe.

The Tigers held the lead for the majority of the first half against the Warriors. Guilherme Verardo scored five straight points, including a 3-pointer to give MCC its biggest lead of the half, 31-20 with 9:31 to play.

Indian Hills put together a 10-4 run to close out the half and take a 44-42 lead into the locker room.

Rodriguez scored 16 of his points in the first frame. Carter and Merdic Green both scored nine points before the break.

The Tigers limited Indian Hills to just 2-for-21 from 3-point range in the first half.

Rodriguez regained the lead for the Tigers in the opening minutes of the second half on his third three-point play of the night, putting the Tigers up 49-48. Following a back-and-forth battle that put the Warriors up 57-55, Indian Hills found their stroke from deep, knocking down six straight triples to extend their lead to double-digits.

The Warriors responded to their first-half struggles from three-point range with an 8-for-13 performance in the second half.

The 93 points are the fourth-most for MCC this season.

Despite the loss, the Tigers earned the No. 4 seed in the upcoming Region XI Tournament. MCC will host No. 5 seed Northeast Community College in the opening round at 7 p.m. on Monday night at the Student Activity Center. The winner advances to play Indian Hills on Feb. 26 in Ottumwa.