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MVNU defeats #3 IWU

The MVNU men’s basketball team (14-4) opened 2017 with an upset against the No. 3 team in the nation -- and then fell to the No. 2 team in the nation on Saturday.

Last week’s competition against Indiana Wesleyan University ended in a 92-80 victory for the Cougars, their first over IWU since MVNU joined the Crossroads League in 2011.

Sophomore Brett Vipperman led the Cougars with 20 points and six rebounds. He credited the Cougars’ solid defense for the win.

“We have done a great job on the defensive end, setting us up for success in transition and into the offensive end. But, it all starts with your energy and focus on the defensive end,” Vipperman said.

Four other Cougars scored in double digits against IWU. Senior Deontae Cole chipped in 16 points and six rebounds, freshmen Trey McBride and Jacob Paul put in 15 and 14 points, respectively, and senior Patrick Lucas added 10 points.

Vipperman said he is proud of the Cougars’ teamwork and improvement so far this season. “We play off of each other’s strengths and different roles in the team. I have seen many improvements on our togetherness,” he said.

Cougars Head Coach Jared Ronai was happy with the Cougars’ victory.

“I am incredibly proud of our men tonight,” Ronai said following the victory.

The key to success, according to Ronai, was staying locked in to their defensive game plan for the full 40 minutes. “We defended, rebounded at a high level, and got out in transition,” Ronai said.

The Cougars followed their big victory with a 73-51 loss at the University of Saint Francis.

Paul led the Cougars offensively with 15 points. Vipperman chipped in 12 points and McBride added 8 points.

Moving forward, the Cougars look to improve their teamwork and become “the best we are capable of becoming,” said Vipperman. “Being really good at the little things will continue to help us as we move on and grow even more as a team.”

The Cougars will travel to Goshen College on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

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