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Titans Secure Conference Championship Against Cards

Written by on February 17, 2022

Image courtesy of Kodiak Creative

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – In their second meet of the season against the North Central Cardinals, the Illinois Wesleyan Titans prevailed to complete the sweep at home with a final score of 78-65.

“It was a great win for our team, for our program,” said Head Coach Ron Rose. “To be able to secure a conference championship outright on our home court was really a wonderful accomplishment by this team… I think we are really hitting our stride here at the end of the season and starting to put it all together.”

The Titans got out to a hot start in the first half, posting 41 points alone in that 15-minute span. That point total marked their highest scoring first half since all the way back on January 15th against Augustana.

“It was a really free flowing game,” said Coach Rose. “We were getting stops, getting clean rebounds, and getting up and down the floor… I especially think the last week or two our offense has been getting back to the way it was earlier in the season.”

IWU got off to the hot start on the steady shooting of multiple Titans, including Peter Lambesis. Lambesis had his highest point total since returning from a one game hiatus due to a hand injury, with 13 points and 5 rebounds.

“It felt really good,” said Peter Lambesis. “It was a fun game to be a part of, especially at home too with our last regular season game at home.”

While the Titan offensive production came from all across the board, with three players scoring in the double digits, the majority of their offensive success came from inside the arc. 38 of the total points scored by IWU came from inside the paint.

“We’re so balanced, any given night we can have someone go for fifteen,” said guard Cory Noe. “It’s very unique and it’s a good thing to have. I’m so close with all of my teammates so seeing them succeed and make an impact on the game is great. I love it.”

A large part of the reason for this offensive production near the basket is due to the dynamic rebounding duo of Cody Mitchell, and Matthew Leritz, who both finished the contest with 9 rebounds apiece.

“It’s a huge advantage,” said Lambesis. “With a guy like Cody who is so athletic, he can grab any rebound. And you know Matt’s giving you 9-10 rebounds a game at least, so that’s been huge for us. Especially last night being able to take advantage of that with a smaller team against us it was a really big strength of ours.”

With this win in the books, the Titans secured their first 20-win season since 2015, and in doing so also earned them a CCIW conference championship as the number one seed heading into the CCIW tournament.

“We came in with high expectations, and being able to meet that initial goal of competing and winning a conference championship is terrific,” said Coach Rose. “We knew we had a great group coming in, and we saw the work these guys did in the offseason and they were as fit as any team I’ve been around when they showed up to campus.”

For graduating seniors like Cory Noe, this sort of prime positioning to win one last CCIW tournament before leaving, would provide them with the proper send off for the accumulation of their hard work this season.

“I think it would be huge,” said Noe. “No one at Wesleyan has ever won the regular season and then won the conference tournament, so that in itself would be huge… It’s going to be tough and we’re going to be challenged but would mean a lot.”

After two tough losses in late January, the Titans have finally seemed to find their footing and regain their endurance for the CCIW tournament next week. They’ll finish out their season this Saturday on the road against Augustana, with tip-off set for 7p.m.