ROCK ISLAND — After Augustana College took its first lead of the second half with 9:19 remaining, Illinois Wesleyan coach Ron Rose advised his team to do some taking of its own.
"They took a one-point lead and I told our team at the timeout they were not going to give it to us. We've got to take it," Rose said. "We came out and played to win."
With IWU's veteran guards controlling the pace and Mike Marietti and Trevor Seibring providing a needed inside presence, the Titans knocked off No. 1-ranked Augustana, 89-84, Wednesday before a Carver Center crowd of 1,571.
"I thought we competed at a really high level, and we needed to," said Rose. "We saw the competitive side come out in our kids. Multiple guys made big plays."
Senior guard Pat Sodemann established a season high and matched a career best with 20 points for Wesleyan, which climbed into a first-place tie with the Vikings atop the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin at 5-1 and advanced to 13-4 overall.
"We tried to stay focused and not let them get us out of what we wanted to do," Sodemann said. "Anytime you can beat a CCIW opponent on the road, let alone the No. 1 team in the country, it's a big win."
IWU emerged from a 14-14 tie to assume a 23-14 edge on nine straight Sodemann points. Three Jordan Nelson free throws with 9:06 showing handed the Titans a 32-20 edge that shriveled to 48-42 by halftime.
"We did a poor job out of the gate. They got great confidence and great looks early, and we were playing catch up all night," Augustana coach Grey Giovanine said. "They have a great senior backcourt and they made great decisions."
A Hunter Hill fastbreak bucket gave the Vikings (15-2 overall) a 64-63 edge. A Bryce Dolan 3-pointer snapped a 65-65 deadlock with 7:49 to play, and the Titans clung stubbornly to that advantage the rest of the way.
Ben Ryan's 3-pointer at the 5:01 mark sliced the Wesleyan margin to 72-70. But after a Nelson 3-pointer from the corner, the Titans' lead never fell below five.
"One hundred percent composure," said Marietti, who connected on all six of his shots while contributing 16 points and blocking four shots. "We knew if we got our third or fourth ball screen they would break down. We got them out of whack with our ball movement."
Nelson's 19 points including 10 of 11 accuracy at the free throw line. Dylan Overstreet added 12 points as Wesleyan's 58.3 percent from the field (28 of 48) marked its second best shooting game of the season
"It's a disappointing effort to give up 89 points at home," Giovanine said. "That was one of our weaker defensive efforts at the wrong time against a skilled team."
Hill and Ryan each scored 19 to pace Augustana, which saw a 10-game winning streak halted. Griffin Pils chipped in 15 off the bench for the Vikings, who hit half of their 30 shots in each half.
The Titans committed just nine turnovers against Augustana's notoriously sticky defense.
"It's always a key to not turn the ball over," said Sodemann. "We did that pretty well."