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BLOOMINGTON — The rampaging Illinois Wesleyan women's basketball team, which hosts Elmhurst at 5 p.m. Saturday, continues to churn out numbers the stat freaks among its fans must find delectable. 

Among the morsels of note is an 83.1 scoring average that ranks fifth nationally among 450 Division III schools. Plus, the Titans are winning by 19.4 per game, the fourth best pace in school history behind the teams of 2007-08 (26.3), 2008-09 (22.5) and 2009-10 (21.5).

The average margin of victory doesn't surprise Coach Mia Smith.

"I think we are a very offensive-minded team and I think we shoot the ball well most of the time," she said. "I'm knocking on wood so I don't jinx us."

Many IWU stats are better than a year ago including the assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.22, which ranks 12th nationally. A year ago, Wesleyan was at 1.01.

The No. 23-nationally ranked Titans, winners of nine straight, come in at 11-2 overall and 4-0 in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin while Elmhurst is 7-6 and 3-1.

Wesleyan, which has topped the 90-point barrier five times, is coming off a 102-57 win over Augustana in which IWU's five freshmen combined for 40 points led by Kendall Sosa's season-high 20.

"Freshman is no longer a word for them," said Smith, who considers the group varsity stalwarts. 

In Elmhurst, Smith sees an opponent similar to last year's Titans.

"Last year, we could be very good or we couldn't be very good," she said. "That's exactly the way Elmhurst is playing. It's going to be up to us to make sure they don't play very good."

With six losses, the Bluejays have nearly matched the loss total of last's year's 19-7 team, but this year's squad has played a tougher schedule. 

Elmhurst is led by 5-foot-11 senior Mikaela Eppard, who averages 16.5 points and a league-leading 10.7 rebounds.

"Mikaela is a preseason All-American and a very talented player," Smith said. "She certainly has our respect and our attention so one of the keys is putting pressure on the girl that's delivering the pass to Mikaela."

The other half of that strategy requires post defenders to make it tough for Eppard to receive passes.

"We'll try to play in front of her," Smith said. "We'll draw some weak-side help."

Other top Bluejays are 5-6 senior Jasmin Bailey (12.0 ppg) and 5-9 senior Kaela Jones (11.6). Look for the Titans to pressure freshman point guard Kelly Weyhrich, who averages 3.2 turnovers.

IWU's leading scorer, Maddie Merritt (14.2 ppg), didn't practice Thursday because of knee pain. Molly McGraw (12.4) will continue to start as she recovers from an ankle injury. Other starters in every game have been Rebekah Ehresman (10.3), Ashley Schneider (7.6) and Sydney Shanks (5.9).

Smith reports the mood in practice has been upbeat. 

"I think they're really excited about where they're at and maintaining where they're at," she said. "We talk every day about just making a little bit of improvement."

Follow Randy Sharer on Twitter: @PG_sharer


Sports Writer

Sports Writer for The Pantagraph.

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