BLOOMINGTON — History repeated itself and that was fine with Illinois Wesleyan’s No. 17-nationally ranked women’s basketball team, which recorded another lopsided victory on Wednesday.
The victim by a 99-70 score was visiting Augustana, which had suffered a 45-point loss to the Titans on Jan. 3.
Senior standout Molly McGraw notched 16 points to become the No. 2 career scorer in IWU history. Her 1,424 points moved her past the 1,415 scored by Elaine Hill (1986-90) and Kristen Schroff (1992-96). Only Tracy Butler’s school record of 1,632 (1992-96) remains ahead.
“She belongs there,” said Wesleyan coach Mia Smith. “She’s done everything she’s needed to do to get there.”
Sophomore Sydney Shanks scored a career-high 21 points to become the eighth Titan this season to grab game-high scoring honors. Also reaching double figures were Maddie Merritt with 19, Rebekah Ehresman with 12 and Raven Hughes with 10.
“I definitely think my confidence is up, but with the teamwork, I think we all get open shots,” said Shanks after making 7 of 12 shots while exhibiting career-best shooting range. “Tonight was my night I guess.”
The Titans’ 16th consecutive victory pushed them to 18-2 overall and 11-0 in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin. Augie’s third straight loss dropped it to 12-8 and 5-6.
“I think they are a very good team,” said Augustana coach Mark Beinborn. “I told Coach (Smith), I hope they win out and go on and represent us and do good things in the (NCAA) tournament because they have the team capable to do it.”
IWU took the lead for good with a 7-0 surge capped by Ehresman’s three-point play to make it 9-4 with 8:20 left in the first quarter. The Titans tacked on 16-7 run featuring six points from Shanks to go up 25-11.
“I thought she (Shanks) and Maddie Merritt played really well,” Smith said. “Maddie was battling some knee issues, but she hung in there because she knew her teammates needed her to.”
Merritt had 10 points the first 10½ minutes, but suffered a knee injury with 2:26 left in the half. She came back to play 14 minutes the second half.
Augustana hung around with help from a 6-0 half-ending run to get within 45-37. The Vikings shot 54.2 percent the first half before cooling to 48.0 percent. IWU shot 52.1 percent.
“We’ve forgotten how hard we have to play, especially when teams are gunning for us,” Smith said. “That is exactly the game I thought we would get from Augustana.
“I thought we responded at halftime and came out in the third quarter much, much better.”
Indeed, IWU opened the third period with an 11-1 run. With 4:08 left in the quarter, the gap was 63-43. A 3-pointer by Shanks later made it 68-44.
“Syd’s always been a great shooter, but I think she’s gotten a lot more confident lately,” Merritt said. “She’s usually just focused on getting everyone else the ball. She’s taking more shots for herself and we’re all completely OK with that.”
IWU’s 25 assists included seven from Ehresman, who also had seven rebounds and three steals. Hughes and Ashley Schneider also had seven boards as Wesleyan gained a 39-27 advantage on the glass to produce a 25-11 difference in second-chance points.
Alexis Jones led Augie with 18 points followed by Clare Kramer with 17. Izzy Anderson and Victoria Allen had 10 apiece. The Vikings committed 27 turnovers while being outscored off turnovers, 37-11. Their bench was outscored, 25-12.