Men’s hoops snaps losing streak with big win at home

Matthew Noguez, Sports Editor

Sixteen-hundred people packed the Shirk Center for the annual PinkZone game, as The Illinois Wesleyan Men’s Basketball Team broke their losing spell with a dominant 79-61 win over Carroll University on Saturday, Feb 4. 

With the important win, the Titans stay in contention for the conference tournament with an overall record of 11-10 (6-6 in the CCIW). 

IWU grabbed a total of 44 rebounds, 15 being on the offensive side. A key to their wins has seemingly been cleaning up the boards as they have out-rebounded their opponents in every one of their CCIW wins this season. 

The dominance didn’t stop at the boards as the Titans led in shooting percentage at 44.6 percent (29-65) compared to Carroll’s 41.1 percent (23-56). The grittiness of the Green and White prevailed as they led in points in the paint 34-28 and points off turnovers 18-6. 

Senior guard Lucas Heflen continued his lights-out offensive performance as he dropped a game-high 25 points, aided by four three-pointers. Also contributing on the defensive side tallying a block and a game-high three steals. 

Heflen is coming off being named CCIW player of the week and is in contention for back-to-back praises.  

Senior big man Cody Mitchell tallied his ninth double-double of the season with 24 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Eight of his rebounds came on the offensive side leading the Titans to 17 second-chance points. 

The co-captain senior is ranked first in the CCIW and 40th in the nation for offensive rebounds per game (3.33). Mitchell shot an impressive 60 percent from the field (9-15) as he continues his Bevo Francis Award campaign.

Junior Ryan Sroka rounded out the double-digit scorers on the Titan’s side as he added 13 points of his own, shooting 50 percent from the field (4-8) and hauling down seven boards. 

The Titans got out the gates hot scoring five consecutive points to start the game and never let go of their lead since that point. They went into the half up 13 points as the score was 37-24. 

Another lackluster start to the second half by the Titans allowed the Pioneers to crawl their way back into the game. 

Carroll would go on a 10-2 scoring run in the first two minutes of the second half and cut the Titan lead by 5. 

The excellent three-point shooting by the Titans allowed them to roll past the Pioneers and mount up a 21-point lead with four minutes left in the game. 

Shortly after the game Helfen went on to say “This is a great win but this is what we should’ve done, we have to focus on us because we need every game left. I still believe, I know all the coaches and players believe. It’s all about making the tournament and anything can happen.”

The Titans continue CCIW play as they embark on a three-game road trip starting with Millikin at Decatur for their 238th game against one another. The game is set to tipoff at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8.