Wesleyan Advances to Round of 32 in March Madness
Written by Blake Borgardt on March 5, 2022
Image courtesy Kodiak Creative
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – The Titans were able to pick up their first March Madness win of the tournament against Franklin, with a final score of 73-55.
“I was really happy with our team I though we stayed with it,” said Illinois Wesleyan Head Coach Ron Rose. “Clearly happy to get our feet under us in the NCAA tournament with this first round win.”
The Titans got out to an early first-half lead against the Grizzlies, running up the score before the half ended on the back of a couple Ryan Sroka mid-range jumpers with the score sitting at 40-26. After that point they took their foot off the gas pedal.
“Even when it was a close game 10 minutes in we hung with the gameplan,” said Rose. “ But when we were a little more stubborn on the offensive end I thought we had some good success to extend that lead.”
Leading the way with the lion share of the point total was the dynamic front court duo of Cody Mitchell and Matthew Leritz, who combined for 26 total points.
“Coming into the game was the usual approach, trying to do the dirty work for the team,” said Cody Mitchell. “Getting offensive rebounds crashing the glass. Had a tough assignment today. (Matt) Krause is a great player. So just trying to use my energy on defense and take shots when they come to me.”
The Titans front court shone bright in the rebound second as well, as they posted a combined 22 rebounds. This accounted for just under half of the teams total rebounds, as well as nearly out-rebounding Franklin on their own, as Franklin only posted 31 total.
“My goal every game is to dominate on the boards,” said forward Matthew Leritz. “Taking advantage of my size advantage too, and I think I was able to do that pretty early on.”
The Titans have hung their hat on the defensive end all season, with a CCIW conference high in defensive points allowed with 64.6 per game. While that was evident in the scoreboard, it was also evident on the stat sheet, as they allowed the Grizzles to a 37.3% three-point percentage.
“Initially we wanted to emphasize making it difficult to get threes off,” said Rose. “Our goal was to limit them to just 20 threes, but they ended up getting 32. But that’s who they are, we knew they were going to shoot a lot of threes.”
With this victory the Titans will now be faced with a grueling 24-hour turn around, as they will have to head right back on the court tomorrow night. Due to the extensive lead the Titans had accumulated, Coach Rose was able to pull some starters to rest them up for the upcoming matchup.
“You’re always hoping that’s the case,” said Rose. “I was thrilled we got to play a lot of guys… we got to spread out some minutes and get some younger guys on the floor. So hopefully we’re fresh and as well as getting some guys experience on the court so they’re ready as well.”
The Titans will now advance even deeper in to the March Madness tournament reaching the Round of 32. Their next matchup will be against University-Wisconsin La Crosse tomorrow at the Shirk Center, with tip-off set for 6:45 p.m.