Men’s basketball goes 10-0

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By Mackenzie Astling, Sports Writer
The now No. 9 Illinois Wesleyan University men’s basketball team walked off the court one step closer to the coveted conference championship with a 79-64 win on Saturday, Feb. 2 against the Wheaton College Thunder. The fighting Titans improved to 10-0 in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin for the first time since the 1976-77 team was 14-0. This defeat set Wheaton at 16-5 overall and 6-4 in the CCIW.
“Wheaton has a few really good players, so our strategy was not necessarily to hold them scoreless but to limit the amount of times they caught the ball in a comfortable position and to make them take tough shots,” sophomore Pat Sodemann said.
In the first half, the game was close, as the teams tied 19-19. With about eight minutes to go, the Titan energy skyrocketed, flying past Wheaton with an 8-0 run to take a 27-19 lead. The IWU lead varied from nine to 13 points at the end of the first half, and Wheaton never had a chance to come back to lead the game.
The Titans led by as much as 21 on two occasions in the second half, with about 10 minutes to go. Although Wheaton tried to fight back with four minutes left only nine points behind the Titans, they were shut down and had to settle for the final 79-64 score.
The lead scorer for the game was junior Andrew Ziemnik, with 18 points and nine rebounds. Following Ziemnik were Sodemann with 14 points and junior Victor Davis with 12 points and an impressive 10 rebounds.
The Titans also led the free throw and three-point field goal percentage by a significant amount. IWU made 26 of 32 free throws, while Wheaton only made 7 of 16.
“Every game counts, and every game is a huge game,” Davis said. “However, games against the top-tier in conference are always little bit more intense and physical, so we knew we had to bring it.”
The Titans will come back on the IWU court on Wednesday, Feb. 6 against North Park at 7:30 p.m. Their current goal is to bring home the CCIW championship.
“The game Wednesday against North Park gives us a chance to secure at least a share of the conference championship,” Head Coach Rose said. “Our team takes great pride in playing at the Shirk Center and in front of the best Division III fans in the country, so it is always a big game when we play at home.”
“We are very close to accomplishing our goal,” sophomore Dylan Overstreet said. “This team is really starting to figure it out and come together, but we know we have to continue to improve and stay hungry.”