The historic 50 game win streak for the Macs has come to an end. Illinois Wesleyan made a statement with a 73-59 win against the #1 ranked Macs. The Titans came out of the gate strong, connecting on 6 of their first 9 three pointers, and shooting 64% from the field in the first half. But perhaps the most impressive part of their performance was on the defensive end as they held the Macs to just 59 points on 41% shooting. The Titans came into the Max Stern Athletic Center with the intention of showing the world they were the better team, and they did just that. The Titans were well-prepared, handling the MSAC crowd and locking down the Macs’ leading scorers. IWU’s offense was balanced, with five players scoring at least ten points, but none with more than 15. Yeshiva’s Eitan Halpert had a good showing, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Macs undefeated.
How it happened:
The Titans opened the game with two consecutive three pointers by Luke Yoder and Cory Noe to give the Titans a 6-0 lead one minute into the game.
Ofek Reef put the Macs on the board with an aggressive finish at the rim.
Matthew Leritz connected on a three to give the Titans a 20-8 lead with 14 minutes to go in the first half.
Turell’s jumper off the glass cut the Macs’ deficit to 24-17 nine minutes into the game.
A layup by Leritz capped off an 8-0 run for the Titans which gave them a 44-24 lead with 5 minutes in the half.
Pete Lambesis knocked down the three pointer to give the Titans a 49-29 lead heading into the half.
The Titans picked up where they left off with a Cody Mitchell dunk on the first possession of the second half.
Ethan Lasko gave the Macs their first three pointer of the night to cut the deficit to 53-34.
Turell hit back to back three pointers to give the Macs some momentum with 14 minutes to play.
Turell’s third three pointer of the game cut the lead to 72-56 with four minutes to play. Both teams were gassed by the end of the game, combining for four total points over the last four minutes of the game.
Three point shooting
Entering this game the Macs were shooting 41% from behind the arc while the Titans were shooting just 33%. In this game, the Titans came out on fire from behind the arc, shooting 9-14 from long distance in the first half. The Macs started the game with their worst shooting half of season going 0-9 from the three. This allowed the Titans to jump out to a big lead early and put the pressure on the Macs. The Titans took advantage of the Macs’ aggressive help defense and found the open man on the perimeter. Six players on the Titans made at least one three-pointer while three of those players made at least two. While IWU cooled off from deep in the second half, going just 1-9, the first half shooting led to an insurmountable lead for the Titans.
Illinois Wesleyan's Defense
The Macs were averaging 92 points coming into this matchup. They were held to just 59 points and only mustered 29 points in the first half. While the Macs are partly to blame for their own offensive inefficiency, the Titans defense was the major reason for the Macs’ offensive struggles. The Titans held the Macs to just 40% overall shooting and 5-20 from behind the arc. The Titans did an excellent job getting off of screens and forcing the Macs to put the ball on the floor, something which the Macs are not comfortable doing. This was a major wakeup call for the Macs offense and hopefully will be a valuable experience as they look to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament in just a few months.
Perhaps the most lopsided statistic for the Macs in this game was in the rebounding category. The Macs finished with 21 rebounds while the Titans doubled that to finish with 42. As if this was not bad enough, Matthew Leritz finished with 25 rebounds, four more than the Macs had as a team. The Macs were not ready to handle the physicality that the Titans brought to this game and it hurt them badly. The Titans grabbed 12 offensive rebounds, turning those offensive rebounds into 14 second chance points.
For Illinois Wesleyan:
Matthew Leritz put on a strong performance, scoring 14 points and grabbing 25 rebounds. His 25 rebounds set a new all-time IWU record, breaking the previous record of 24, held by NBA Hall-of-Fame center Jack Sikma and Don Davidson.
Luke Yoder led the Titans with 15 points.
Pete Lambesis, Cody Mitchell, and Cory Noe each had double digit points in the win.
Ryan Turell led the Macs with 22 points. Facing a lockdown defender in Pete Lambesis, Turell hit a few ridiculous shots in an attempt to will his team to a comeback.
Eitan Halpert finished with 16 points and 4 assists.
Ethan Lasko finished with 10 points off the bench.
The Macs will have a break until January 26th when they will face Mount Saint Mary College.