BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - In a game with eight ties and nine lead changes, the Illinois Wesleyan women's basketball team held off Carthage to get a 68-67 win in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin title game at the Shirk Center on Saturday (Feb. 25). It is the Titans' fifth straight league title and earns the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The No. 16-ranked Titans will advance with a record of 22-5 while Carthage fell to 20-7 with three of their losses coming to Illinois Wesleyan this season. The NCAA pairings will be announced with a selection show on Monday (Feb. 27) at 1:30 p.m. on NCAA.com.
The Titans were led by senior Olivia Lett's 23 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Two other seniors stepped up as Brittany Hasselbring scored 12 points and Karen Solari scored 10, including the game-deciding basket with 17 seconds remaining in the game.
Sophomore Shelby Jackson also got a team-high 7 rebounds and scored 9 points.
Carthage's Diana Jacklin scored 26 points and collected 11 rebounds to pace the Lady Reds while Dani Ripkey scored 12.
The score was tied for the final time at 62-62 with 3:42 left to play before Carthage's Haley Stercic canned a 3-pointer to give the Lady Reds a 65-62 lead with 3:09 left. After a scoreless 1:40, the Titans got a basket from Hasselbring with 1:29 left and a lay-in from Lett to go on top 66-65 with 48 seconds remaining.
A basket by Jacklin gave Carthage a 67-66 edge with 36 seconds to play before Solari scored on a pass from Lett with 17 seconds to go. The Lady Reds turned the ball over with 4 seconds left.
Illinois Wesleyan shot .458 from the field (27 of 59) and made 4 of 16 3-pointers (.250). IWU suffered from the free throw line, making just 10 of 17 (.588). The Lady Reds shot .481 (26 of 54) from the floor and made 5 of 19 3-pointers (.263) while making 10 of 15 free throws.
Carthage outrebounded IWU, 35-33 and the Lady Reds were guilty of 17 turnovers compared to 13 for IWU. The Titans converted those turnovers into 18 points.