MASON CITY - The No. 7 NIACC men's basketball team made history Thursday night.
NIACC claimed a hard-fought 90-82 victory over Iowa Lakes in the NJCAA Region XI semifinals and collected a school-record 25th win, which broke the old mark of 24 held by the 1995 Trojans, who won the NJCAA Division II national title.
The win also moved the Trojans to the regional title game for the first time since the magical 1995 season. In 1995, NIACC topped Iowa Lakes 83-75 in the regional title game in the NIACC gym.
NIACC had topped Iowa Lakes twice during the regular season (119-110 in Mason City and 107-94 in Estherville).
"We knew they (the Lakers) were going to come out with energy," said sophomore guard Kyle Lang, who led NIACC off the bench with 20 points. "Basically, we just had to be more intense and it paid off."
Second-seed NIACC (25-4) faces top-seed Kirkwood in the regional finals at 3 p.m. Saturday in Cedar Rapids. NIACC and Kirkwood split their two regular season games this season with each team winning on their own home court.
In Thursday's game, Lang, who played extended minutes due to foul trouble to starting guards Quentin Hardrict and Deundra Roberson, was 6 of 9 from the field, including a 4 of 7 performance from 3-point range. Lang also had five rebounds, three assists and one steal.
Lang's previous career high was 19 points against Little Priest Tribal College on Feb. 13.
"We mesh really well as a team," Lang said. "When one man goes down with foul trouble, it's the next man up.
"When my number's called, I have to step up and make plays.'
NIACC was 24 of 35 from the free-throw line while Iowa Lakes was 8 of 15.
NIACC led 40-32 at the half and pushed its lead to 13 points with 14:05 to play in the second half.
Iowa Lakes, however, trimmed the Trojan lead to 73-71 with about five minutes left in the contest.
Dean connected on a 3-point goal with 4:30 remaining in the game to push the NIACC lead to 76-71. Roberson converted a back-door dunk on an assist from James Harris to increase NIACC's lead to 80-73 with 3:05 to play in the game.
"Defense and rebounding," NIACC sophomore Orrington Hamilton said about the difference down the stretch. "It was really crucial and we he had to tighten up.
"It got down to two, but we trusted ourselves and got the job done."
Note: NIACC's three-game sweep over Iowa Lakes this season is the third time in school history that has been done. The Trojans also won three games (2 regular season and the regional tournament) in the 1972-73 and 1977-78 seasons.
NIACC's 2018-19 season (25-4 overall)
DCTC 91, NIACC 80
NIACC 97, Bay College 77
Iowa Western 100, NIACC 76
NIACC 78, Marshalltown CC 73
NIACC 99, RCTC 67
NIACC 94, Southeastern CC 86
NIACC 109, Wartburg College JV 77
NIACC 101, DCTC 65
NIACC 105, Northeast CC 71
NIACC 108, Luther College JV 70
NIACC 104, Southwestern 81
NIACC 125, Mount Mercy JV 98
NIACC 86, Iowa Central 75
NIACC 106, DMACC 100
Kirkwood 83, NIACC 65
NIACC 108, St. Ambrose University Junior Varsity 72
NIACC 110, Little Priest Tribal College 85
NIACC 86, Ellsworth 74
NIACC 119, Iowa Lakes 110
NIACC 96, Southwestern 83
NIACC 95, Iowa Central 82
NIACC 95, Kirkwood 81
NIACC 121, Little Priest Tribal College 101
NIACC 109, Graceland University JV 53
NIACC 107, Iowa Lakes 94
NIACC 86, Ellsworth 64
DMACC 96, NIACC 89
NJCAA Region XI tournament
NIACC 114, Little Priest Tribal College 88
NIACC 90, Iowa Lakes 82