BLOOMINGTON — Illinois Wesleyan’s 89-72 win over North Park on Saturday was Mia Smith’s 326th coaching victory.
In her heart, it meant a lot more.
“I just feel better about so many things that we are doing,” said Smith after ending a six-game skid, the worst at IWU since 1991-92. “I think our shot selection is better, which is helping us score a little bit more.
“The most important thing that I feel the best about right now is our level of intensity and our work effort. In the game against North Park, we wore them down.”
The Titans met their motto for that contest: start strong … finish stronger.
“That’s how I felt we played,” said Smith, who hopes to see more of the same as IWU (7-9, 1-4) hosts College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin foe Augustana (7-9, 1-4) at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Titan senior Kasey Reaber earned CCIW Player of the Week honors after a 23-point, eight-rebound, six-steal and five-assist outing against North Park. Smith notes similar efforts in losses don’t get recognized.
“If we get individual recognition,” she said, “it means our team is winning.”
A 4-of-9 shooting night for 12 points by Rebekah Ehresman on Saturday meant a lot to the Titans, who’d seen her go a combined 5 of 26 (.192) the previous three games.
“I think it’s just a huge confidence builder (for the team),” said Smith of Ehresman’s effort. “With most of the girls you can tell if their shots are going in or not going in by the way they set up their shot. For Rebekah it was about getting the parts (of her shot) together.
“What’s more important than her shot is if we charted hustle plays, she would be in double digits all the time. She just does so many little things.”
Among them is share the CCIW lead in steals per game with Reaber at 2.44.
Sophomore Kaitlyn O’Boye played a season-high 21 minutes Saturday, scoring four points, while sharing time at one post position with Alina Lehocky and Gabby Weber. Smith feels O’Boye offers more offensively while the others offer more defensively.
“I was very impressed with Kaitlyn O’Boye,” Smith said. “She fit in well with the players on the floor. She was in a lot of places she needed to be.”
Augustana is a team that likes to drive, Smith said. The Vikings are led by 6-0 Marissa Pezzopane, who averages 16.2 points while shooting from inside and out. She also gets 7.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.