Ottumwa -- Indian Hills took a five-point lead over No. 1 ranked Northwest Florida State around nine minutes into a closely-contested second half and the No. 12 Warriors were poised to pull off an upset at the Hellyer Center on Saturday night. The IHCC lead was 57-55 two minutes later, and that's when the Raiders' guard combination of Javion Hamlet and Chris Duarte ensured that their team would not return home after suffering its first loss of the season. Hamlet scored Northwest Florida's next nine points and Duarte followed with consecutive 3-pointers to account for all the points in a 15-2 run that turned the game around, the result an 86-72 Raiders' victory. The win extended Northwest Florida State's season-opening winning streak to 11 and put an end to IHCC's 41-game home court win streak.
There were five ties and eight lead changes to begin the second half before Tomas Woldetensae gave the Warriors what would be their last lead with a pair of free throws. That put the score at 57-55. Hamlet's three-point play gave Northwest Florida a lead it would not give up. He then hit two free throws and, after Woldetensae scored for Indian Hills, Hamlet hit back-to-back buckets and Duarte connected twice from distance and in a span of around three minutes the score was 70-59.
IHCC's Iziah James twice got the deficit to nine, but the Warriors never got closer than that in suffering their third loss of the season, all to ranked teams.
Hamlet had 20 of his game-high 26 points in the final 20 minutes and Duarte scored 18 of his 22 after halftime. Those two sophomores outscored Indian Hills, 38-36 in the second half.
The Warriors put together a solid first half, leading by as many as nine at one point and going to intermission ahead 36-33. Neither team was able to lead by more than three points nine minutes into the final period until a three-point play by Torrey Patton and a goal by James allowed IHCC to snap a 50-all deadlock. Duarte's three and a tip-dunk by Kayne Henry tied it up for Northwest Florida. The Woletensae free throws came next, and then the onslaught from Hamlet and Duarte provided lots of breathing room for the Raiders.
Woldetensae led Indian Hills with 16 points and Tyler Chisom and James joined him in double figures with 10. The Warriors were averaging over 24 free-throw attempts per game, but shot only 10 and made just four of them. Northwest Florida, which entered the weekend second in the country in free throw percentage, hit 22-of-26 foul shots.
Indian Hills had to settle for a split in their weekend contests in the Reed Overhead Doors Classic. They had knocked off third-rated Southern Idaho on Friday night.
The Warriors go on the road next Saturday for a battle with Moberly Area, ranked No. 11 in the preseason NJCAA poll.
NORTHWEST FLORIDA STATE 86, INDIAN HILLS 72
Devontae Lane 1 0-0 2, Billy Thomas 3 0-0 8, Iziah James 5 0-0 10, Nick Wagner 0 0-0 0, Tyon Grant-Foster 2 0-1 4, Tomas Woldetensae 5 3-4 16, Josh Nicholas 1 0-0 3, JD Muila 3 0-4 6, Anthony Bratton 2 0-0 4, Tyler Chisom 5 0-0 10, Torrey Patton 3 1-1 7 Team 30 4-10 72
NORTHWEST FLORIDA STATE
Chris Duarte 6 6-7 22, Javion Hamlet 8 9-9 26, Eric Vila 2 7-10 11, Noah Morgan 1 0-0 2, Tyrie Jackson 6 0-0 15, Trey Diggs 1 0-0 3, Kayne Henry 2 0-0 5, Anthony Mason 1 0-0 2, Sam Baker 0 0-0 0 Team 27 22-26 86
Halftime score: Indian Hills 36, Northwest Florida State 33; Three-point field goals: IHCC 8 (Woldetensae 3, Thomas 2, Grant-Foster 2, Nicholas 1); NFS 10 (Duarte 4, Jackson 3, Hamlet 1, Diggs 1, Henry 1)