BLOOMINGTON — Making both open and contested shots made Illinois Wesleyan’s reeling women’s basketball look regal for a while on Saturday.
Unfortunately, reality set in the second half and Carthage came away with a 68-62 triumph in front of 600 Shirk Center fans.
The Titans scored 20 points off turnovers the first half and only seven the second as their shooting percentage sank from 53.8 percent the opening 20 minutes to 30 percent the second half.
IWU coach Mia Smith blamed the loss on her team’s inability to turn instruction into action.
“I’ve never been as frustrated with any team that I’ve had as I am with this one because they, for some reason, do not hear any of the adjustments we make at halftime,” said the 17th-year mentor. “It’s like they just go back out and do their own thing. To be honest, I’m a little sick of it.”
IWU fell to 6-9 overall and 0-3 in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin while Carthage improved to 10-4 and 3-0.
Smith knew if her team took away Carthage’s high-low offense, the Lady Reds would kick the ball out to 3-point shooters. They did, sinking seven of their 12 3-pointers the second half.
“They don’t have anything else,” Smith said. “It took us eight minutes to deny that top pass.”
Seeking to avoid their first five-game losing streak since the 1992-93 season, the Titans trailed by three when they launched a 15-0 run the final 4:00 of the first half to go up 38-26. During that span, the Lady Reds couldn’t get off a shot while committing eight of their 18 first-half turnovers.
“It was a great stretch,” Smith said. “That’s how we play – in spurts. They don’t realize that’s how quickly they can turn the tide of a ballgame.”
Rebekah Ehresman and Gabrielle Holness sparked the 15-0 flurry with back-to-back 3-pointers. Molly McGraw added two free throws before Gabby Weber added a steal and layup ahead of a Shelby Gray 3-pointer and an Amanda Kelly layup.
Carthage broke the Titans’ spell with a 7-0 run to open the second half. The Lady Reds’ seventh second-half 3-pointer pulled them into a 58-58 tie with 5:58 left. IWU made just one of its final nine shots as Carthage finished on an 11-3 surge.
McGraw led IWU with 13 points and Holness added 10. Carthage got 18 points and 10 rebounds from Taylor Boardman while Kasey Kleiner chipped in 16 points, Erin Thomas 15 and Alexis Hahn 11.
“We walked right into their trap (the first half),” said Carthage coach Tim Bernero. “In the second half, we got more easy baskets than they did.”