24th-ranked Wheaton (Ill.) survives 2OT scare at North Central to clinch CCIW title

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Naperville, Ill. - The 24th-ranked Thunder women's basketball team survived a double overtime thriller on Saturday night to clinch at least a share of the CCIW Championship with a 68-59 thriller at North Central. The victory moves Wheaton's record to 20-4 overall and 14-1 and also gives the Thunder home court advantage for the upcoming CCIW Tournament. The title is Wheaton's fourth under head coach Kent Madsen. The victory is Wheaton's 21st-consecutive win over North Central, dropping the Cardinals to 7-16 overall and 5-9 in the CCIW.

Wheaton shot 48% in the fourth quarter and overtime periods to finish the game shooting 39.1% (25-64) from the field including 25% (5-20) from the three-point line. and 65% (13-20) from the free throw line. North Central shot just 26.3% (10-38) after halftime, finishing the game shooting 37.1% (26-70) from the field and 31.3% (5-16) from beyond the arc. The Cardinals struggled at the free throw, making just two of eight attempts. After being outrebounded by six in the first half, the Thunder won the battle on the boards 47-41 with both teams grabbing 14 offensive rebounds.

Hannah Frazier was held to just 10 points in regulation, but erupted for 13 points in the two overtime periods to finish just shy of a triple-double with 23 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists. Jordan Myroth also narrowly missed a triple-double, finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists. Hannah Williams finished with 12 points and Jill Berg tallied six points and six rebounds.

After a back-and-forth first quarter, North Central took control of the game in the second quarter, using a 14-0 run while keeping Wheaton off the scoreboard for a stretch of just under six minutes to build a 36-23 lead before a Myroth lay-up cut the halftime score down to 36-25.

Wheaton opened the second half on an 8-2 run, cutting the score lead down to 38-33 while holding the Cardinals to just one field goal over the first seven minutes of the third quarter. Wheaton would cut the lead down to 40-36 at the end of the quarter.

Consecutive three-pointers by Kirsten Madsen and Hannah Williams gave Wheaton their first lead of the second half at 44-42 and started a back and forth finish to regulation that saw neither team lead by more than two for the final seven minutes. Wheaton took a 48-46 lead with 3:31 to play on a lay-up by Myroth but a jumper by Natali Dimitrova with 2:36 left in regulation tied the score at 48, where it would heading into overtime.

Jumpers by Myroth and Frazier gave Wheaton a quick 52-48 lead in the first overtime. Dimitrova answered with a three-pointer and two free throws by Allison Pearson with 1:06 remaining gave the hosts a 54-53 lead. Frazier gave Wheaton the lead on the ensuing possession with a lay-up and following a block by Jill Berg, Frazier split a pair of free throws to put Wheaton up 55-53 with 19 seconds remaining. Tyonne Howard hit a runner with 10 seconds left to tie the score at 55 and survived a frantic final sequence that saw Wheaton have two shots roll off the rim, sending the game to a second overtime.

Wheaton never trailed in the final five minutes, opening with consecutive lay-ups by Frazier to take a 59-55 lead. North Central cut the lead to two at 61-59 on a lay-up by Dimitrova with 2:15 to play, but that would be their final points as Wheaton closed the game on a 7-0 run behind four points from Frazier and three from Myroth.

Wheaton will wrap up its regular season on Wednesday night, when the Thunder travel to Decatur for a 7 pm tip-off at Millikin University.

Note Worthy: With her sixth rebound of the night, Devin Kyler moved past Nicole Merchant (1993-97) into fourth on Wheaton's career rebounding list with 767 career rebounds.