Women’s basketball splits conference games

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Sam Lalonde, Staff Writer

 

The red hot Titans basketball team travelled to Augustana last Wednesday, Jan. 21, and handed the Vikings, who are nationally ranked as number one, their first loss of the season. It was their fifth consecutive win and propelled them to a temporary first place seat in the CCIW.

Illinois Wesleyan University relied heavily on senior Pat Sodemann early on, who scored 12 of the Titans’ first 23 points, eventually finishing with 20, tied for his career best.

Despite trailing in the opening minutes, IWU was resilient, going on a 22-6 run in four minutes and 44 seconds to take a 32-30 lead with nine minutes and seven seconds left in the first half.

It wasn’t until 3:22 that the Titans took a nine-point lead on senior Dylan Overstreet’s three-point play to seal the victory.  Junior Mike Marietti led the bench mob with 16 points on a perfect six-of-six from the field.

Perhaps the biggest difference was the Titans’ ability to draw fouls and capitalize. They went 25-32 from the free throw line.  Senior Jordan Nelson added 19 points while Overstreet had 12 points and four assists.

The Titans concluded their two-game road trip against the strong Elmhurst Blue Jays team, who came in with a number 22 national ranking.  The Titans stayed close at the end of the first half, trailing 31-30. But the second half was all Bluejays.  IWU’s last lead in the game was at the 18 minute and 57 second mark (36-33) when junior Bryce Dolan hit a three.

With just over 17 minutes to go Elmhurst went on a 9-0 run, which eventually led to a 15 point lead with seven minutes remaining.  Remarkably, the Titans battled back thanks to outstanding play from Jordan Nelson (17 points) Dylan Overstreet (14 points, five rebounds, eight assists) and sophomore Alec Bausch, (11 points, seven rebounds), but were unable to secure the victory.

The Blue Jays held off the Titans for a 76-73 victory, in large part thanks to 43 rebounds, 16 of which were on the offensive glass.  The Titans committed 12 turnovers to the Blue Jays’ eight.

“It’s disappointing for sure.  There’s no doubt about that.  We had a great first half and battled back in the second half,” first-year Kevin Connolly said.

“We simply struggled on the glass and the Blue Jays exposed us because of it.  In this conference, you have to come out and play your best game every day and today we didn’t do that,” he continued.

While the loss was not ideal, the Titans have been playing great basketball lately and remain tied in second place with Elmhurst in the CCIW standings.

Currently, the Titans have the upper hand in a tiebreaker with conference-leading Augustana, something that could prove important come CCIW tournament time. Were the two teams to finish the season with the same record, the Titans would have the advantage due to their head-to-head victory.

As of now they are still in good standing to make the CCIW and NCAA tournaments. Last year, three teams from the CCIW made it into the tournament, which bodes well for the second-place Titans.

They will resume the second round of conference play Wednesday, January, 28 at Wheaton College.  The Thunder team has been inconsistent, sitting at 9-9 overall and 2-5 in CCIW play.