I have some good news. Check that, I have sweet news: The IWU women's basketball team is headed to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in history.
More sweet news: The Titans advanced with an 80-63 victory over 9th-ranked UW-Eau Claire, controlling the game from the outset against the best team they've played in quite a while.
And more: IWU will host the next two rounds of the tournament, this Friday and Saturday. They'll take on 4th-ranked UW-Stevens Point Friday at 8pm, and if they win, they'll face either 6th-ranked Wash U. or unranked St. Benedict Saturday night (these two teams play at 6pm Friday).
Saturday against UW-Eau Claire, the Titans shot 50% from the field compared to 40% for the Blugolds (really? The Blugolds? They should have been penalized five points just for their uncreative name. I guess they figure it's creative because they took out the "e."), and forced 20 turnovers. But perhaps most impressive was that IWU put up 80 points against a team that prides itself on defense and allowed just 51 points per game this season. The Titans dictated the tempo and made one of the better defensive teams in the nation look below average.
Claire Sheehan led the Titans in points and rebounds with 17 and 8, and Christina Solari and Mallory Heydorn put in 13 each. Stacey Arlis provided 22 strong minutes off the bench, and Kylie Castans added eight points of her own, including two threes.
The Titans are obviously a phenomenal team--you don't go 29-0 by accident--but the CCIW had such a down year that it was difficult to know how they'd perform against a top team. For me, Saturday's game proved that IWU is an elite team and that they should be able to play with anyone. For that reason, I can't wait until Friday night. Look for a preview of this weekend's games later this week.
The Titans should be extremely proud of what they've accomplished this season. They're in uncharted territory, and they rightfully drew a combined 3,750 fans for their first two tournament games. It should be a great atmosphere next weekend, and