Despite the fact the North Central College women’s basketball team dropped its 14th straight decision to Illinois Wesleyan 115-106, the Cardinals emerged with some confidence Wednesday.
Last year’s two meetings were won by the Titans by a combined 69 points. This time around, aside from a lull early in the second half, the Cardinals hung with Wesleyan and pushed to the end.
“I think that we’re finally getting to the point where we’re playing at the tempo we want to play,” junior Kelsey Cooling said. “Our freshmen are starting to get things clicking.”
The Cardinals (9-8, 2-4 CCIW) have done it despite some injury problems. Freshman DeJa Moore was out again Wednesday with an injury, and there is no timetable for her return. Freshman Sofia Svensson has missed four games due to concussions, but also is back in the lineup.
But with their frenetic pace and multiple substitutions, NCC coach Michelle Roof feels her team is better equipped to handle injury losses\ than most teams.
“I think that’s one of the advantages of rotating so many players and playing so many kids,” Roof said. “Typically, when one of your top four kids are out in a traditional game, you’ll be in trouble.
“ Here, we don’t have DeJa and a couple others, but other players are able to step in and play those minutes and we don’t see as much of a dropoff.”
Wednesday’s game also set a new conference record for points scored with 221. The previous record was also held by North Central, a 113-107 win over Carthage in 1992. The Cardinals are the highest-scoring team in Division III at 96.8 points, putting them on pace to shatter their CCIW record of 86.1, which was set last year.
A spirited rally against Elmhurst, on a late 15-4 run, led to a 72-64 win Saturday, breaking the Cardinals’ three-game CCIW losing streak. But a trip to fourth-ranked Illinois Wesleyan resulted in a 72-57 loss Wednesday.
The Cardinals were in the game much of the night in Bloomington, being tied at 43-43 at the 11:05 mark of the second half, but the Titans were just too strong down the stretch. Vince Kmiec scored 15 for the Cardinals, with Brandon Williams adding a season-high 14. Oswego native Andrew Ziemnik led Wesleyan with 18 points.
Kmiec led all scorers against Elmhurst with 24 points. Landon Gamble scored 19 with a career-high six assists.
The men have lost six of their last eight games, and it gets no easier the next two games. Bitter rival Wheaton awaits Saturday at 7 p.m., and next Wednesday, the Cardinals face 13th-ranked Augustana at 7 p.m. Both games are on the road.
Sophomore Natalie Przybylski set two new school records in diving over the weekend at the Wheaton/Carthage dual meet.
Przybylski set marks in the one-meter dive (193.30) and the three-meter dive (176.75). The Cardinals are back in action Saturday at the Wheaton/Illinois Wesleyan Invitational.