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Titans Fall Against North Central in CCIW Tournament

Written by on March 2, 2022

Image courtesy of Kodiak Creative

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – After a dominant regular season against CCIW competition, the Illinois Wesleyan Titans dropped their second conference loss of the year against North Central in the CCIW Tournament with a final score of 81-74.

“It was a disappointing game for our team,” said Head Coach Ron Rose. “We just didn’t play very well. Our effort was there, but our attention to detail wasn’t necessarily there.”

Although the Titans swept the Cardinals in their two obligatory conference games, these are historically two programs who play each other very closely. In their past 10 meets, neither team has gained an edge in the victory or loss column, as they’ve split the contests both with five losses and five wins.

“We were already in the NCAA tournament, and North Central had to win the tournament to make it into the NCAA tournament,” said Coach Rose. “We’d beaten them pretty good twice already. So I think there were just a lot of things that factored into our mental approach.”

While this loss may come as a shock and disappointment to IWU fans, there are multiple positive facets to take away from this contest.

“We’re certainly disappointed in the loss,” said Coach Rose. “But if it sharpens us… in the end this could be a good thing. The realization that you didn’t play a game as inspired as it needed to be and the season is over will give us something good out of that.”

One of those positive notes is the dominance from the front court with forwards Matthew Leritz and Cody Mitchell. Mitchell and Leritz combined for 31 points and 19 total rebounds. Their dynamic low-post scoring abilities have come alive in the backend of the season.

“Cody and Matt are as good of a frontcourt as you’re going to see,” said Coach Rose. “Cody has really picked up his game and I think he’s been playing great these last few weeks. He’s gotten his confidence back and got comfortable with what we’re asking him to do, and has been an animal with the boards lately.”

Mitchell and Leritz weren’t the only Titans getting it done on the offensive end however, as they were only two of four Titans who scored in double figures on the night.

“The strength of our team is in it’s numbers,” said Coach Rose. “We’ve got five guys on the floor who are all offensive threats, who can all defend… they’re five guys who are intense on the defensive end and are capable of scoring on the offensive end.”

One of those double-digit scorers was guard Cory Noe with 21. Noe has been a crucial focal point for the IWU offense all season, but especially in recent weeks as he’s averaging 15 points over his last four contests.

“We got Pete, Luke, and Cory who are all-conference performers in the backcourt,” said Coach Rose. “All three have unique strengths, and bring something different to our team.”

There is no time for the Titans to dwell on this loss as they’ll have a chance to redeem themselves in the NCAA Tournament later this week. The committee paired IWU up against Franklin, who went 14-15 in their regular season, capping off their season with a HCAC tournament win over Hanover with a final score of 91-84.

“There was some hooping and hollering, but it was more fact finding watching the announcement,” said Coach Rose. “But it immediately turned to we need to get ourselves ready to play in this bracket. I have a motivated team for sure.”

The Titans will look to advance deeper in the March Madness tournament against the Grizzlies at the Shirk Center this Friday, with tip-off set for 7:45 p.m.