Titans Trample Vikings
Written by WZND Newsroom on January 21, 2022
Image courtesy of Kodiak Creative
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – After a back and forth nail biter, the Illinois Wesleyan Titans pulled through and prevailed against the North Park Vikings with a final score of 63-58.
“It was kind of a different game in the sense that it was low scoring but that’s kind of how games go late in the season,” said guard Peter Lambesis. “It was a solid win and we’ll take it.”
The Titans came into the game riding hot on a four-game winning streak, sparked by their road victory against the then No. 1 ranked team in Division 3 basketball, the Yeshiva Maccabees. That win along with a four game win streak propelled the Titans into the rank No. 3 spot in Division 3 basketball.
“I’m pumped about it,” said Lambesis. “It’s just a ranking, but it’s cool to get that recognition for our team as a whole. It’s been really cool to have that going throughout the whole season.”
The high powered offense of the Titans boasted an impressive 78 points per game in their last four coming into the contest, but was held to just a mere 63 points on 46% true shooting.
“The North Park defense is really athletic and they can really get into you defensively,” said forward Matthew Leritz.
While the Viking defense hounded Leritz for much of the evening, it didn’t stop him from posting his eighth double-double of the season as he scored 10 points and 10 rebounds. Along with leading his team in rebounds, he led the Titans on the defensive end tallying a team high of four blocks.
“Speaking as a post player, finishing down low was really tough,” said Leritz. “Our whole team missed a lot of shots around the basket which I think really is a testament to them defensively.”
But the Titans never backed down from the defensive battle, holding North Park to a 16% three-point percentage and out-rebounding the Vikings by four rebounds.
“I think it’s a really good mark to keep going through the season with,” said Lambesis. “We’ve taken a lot of pride this year on the defensive end with our opponents perimeter percentages. We weren’t on our best point offensively, but we can rely on our defense to really alter the game for us in that way.”
One facet which gave the Titans an offensive jolt to pull through in crunch time was regaining senior guard Cory Noe, who played in his first game of 2022. Noe led the team in total points posting 14 points in just 18 minutes on the floor.
“I think having Corey back was great,” said Leritz. “As our second lead scorer he adds a completely new dynamic to our offense. Late in the game he was our knock down free throw shooter so we want the ball in his hands.”
The Titans will aim to continue their hot streak heading into this weekend as they’ll head on the road once more to face off against the Carroll Pioneers.