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Mount Mercy University - Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Jennings relishes title with Mustangs

Aaron Jennings, a 6-foot-11 mountain of a man with a teddy-bear heart, dissolved in tears Sunday night as he talked about coaching the Mount Mercy men's basketball team this season under unusual circumstances and winning the conference title.

Jennings, who hails from Atkins and Benton Community High School, enjoyed a modest college basketball career at Northwestern, but the Wildcats never played in any NCAA or NIT tournaments during his four years in the Big Ten.

He's done much better as a coach.

Jennings led the Mount Mercy women's basketball team to the Elite 8 of the NAIA national tournament in 2012 and now he's taking the men's team to the NAIA nationals after winning the Association of Independent Institutions title with a 74-61 victory over York (Neb.) at the U.S. Cellular Center.

"I've always said, I hope I'm a better coach than I was a basketball player," he said with a big smile after the Mustangs won three games in three days with some exciting basketball in downtown Cedar Rapids.

"I understand what losing is," he said, starting to get emotional. "I always want to prepare my team the best way I know how.

Last Updated on Sunday, 28 February 2016 22:08

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Mustangs earn trip to NAIA nationals

The Mount Mercy men's basketball team clinched a spot in the NAIA national tournament Saturday afternoon by winning a tough game in the semifinals of their conference tournament, but the Mustangs say they are not done yet.

The 17th-ranked Mustangs want to capture the AII conference title Sunday night before they head to Missouri for the national tournament in 10 days.

Mount Mercy trimmed Central Christian, 74-68, in the semifinals of the Association of Independent Institutions tourney Saturday with a late surge at the U.S. Cellular Center.

The Mustangs trailed 65-61 with about three minutes remaining, but they scored 13 straight points to win their second tight game in the AII meet in less than 24 hours.

Mount Mercy (24-7) will face York (23-8) in the conference finals Sunday at 6 p.m.

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Mount Mercy women drubbed by Clarke

The Mount Mercy women's basketball team played its first game ever in downtown Cedar Rapids on Friday, but it quickly turned into the Nightmare on 1st Avenue for the Mustangs.

Mount Mercy played miserably in the first half and lost to Clarke University, 78-58, in the opening round of the AII Tournament at the U.S. Cellular Center.

The Mustangs defeated Clarke twice during the regular season, both times by double digits, but they fell behind by 34 points in the second half and needed a late flurry just to make the score a little more respectable.

Mount Mercy trailed 39-15 at halftime and never recovered.

Mount Mercy coach Bob Kintzel did not need a score sheet to recite his team's atrocious statistics from the first half. They were emblazoned on his brain in scarlet letters.

"We were 4 for 24, 0 for 11 (on 3-pointers) and 46 percent from the free throw line," he recited from memory. "One assist, 18 turnovers. That's not going to win you many games.

Last Updated on Saturday, 27 February 2016 00:36

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Phew! Mustangs survive 99-94 in OT

If you don't think they play fantastic college basketball at the NAIA level, stop by the U.S. Cellular Center on Saturday and Sunday for the final two rounds of the conference tournament they're holding right here in downtown Cedar Rapids.

You might become a convert for life.

Alex Houston muscled in a career-high 31 points and snared 12 rebounds as Mount Mercy barely survived its first-round date with Johnson & Wales, 99-94, in overtime Friday night in a terrific ballgame in the Association of Independent Institutions event.

The Mustangs are seeded No. 1 in the AII tournament and the visitors from Colorado are seeded No. 8, but the seeds had little meaning during a mad-cap day of basketball. Washington Adventist, the No. 7 seed, upset No. 2 seed Rochester (Minn.) in the opening round and Johnson & Wales nearly bumped Mount Mercy out of the tournament.

Last Updated on Friday, 26 February 2016 23:39

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Mount Mercy delays verdict on football

Mount Mercy University has postponed its decision about starting a varsity football program for another year as it continues to study the costs, fundraising plans and future impact on the school.

The Board of Trustees has endorsed the concept of having a football team for the 2019 season, but the board decided at its annual meeting this month in Florida that there are too many unanswered questions at this point.

Where would the players live? How much money could be raised to finance the program? What impact would another 100 students have on academic classes?

"Significant financial decisions remain which will require board approval," Mount Mercy president Laurie Hamen informed Mount Mercy employees in a Feb. 17 e-mail that was obtained by the Metro Sports Report.

Hamen said in December that she expected a final decision on football during the early part of 2016, but now that time frame has been extended for another full year.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2016 19:07

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