BLOOMINGTON — The fifth nationally ranked foe of the Illinois Wesleyan women’s basketball season — No. 13 Wheaton — visits Shirk Center at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The Thunder are 11-1 overall and 1-0 in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin while the Titans, losers of three straight, are 6-6 and 0-1.
IWU coach Mia Smith believes her team is close to hitting on all cylinders.
“I think this team is about ready to explode,” she said. “We’ve never put together a complete game where everybody in the game is playing to their potential. As soon as we do that, we’ll be right where we need to be.”
Titan senior Kasey Reaber, who averages 11.2 points on 50.5 percent shooting, is putting herself in the running for all-conference honors. She had 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in Saturday’s 59-56 loss at North Central.
“The way she played the other night was very mature,” Smith said. “When she came out of the game, that’s when we lost ground.”
Smith says point guard Rebekah Ehresman (8.3 points, 3.3 assists) is finding the balance between looking to pass and looking to score.
“I would like to see her score a little bit more,” Smith said. “She’s a very unselfish player, a very team-oriented player and tries to get everybody involved.”
Foul trouble helped keep IWU scoring leader Gabrielle Holness (12.2) scoreless on Saturday.
Wheaton is led by 5-foot-8 Ellie Zeller (13.8 ppg) and 6-0 Hannah Considine (10.3). Reserve Katie McDaniels (11.8) had 20 in Saturday’s 67-56 win at Elmhurst.
“Zeller scores a lot, drives a lot, gets to the free throw line a lot,” Smith said. “I like Considine. I think she is a talented, mobile post.”
IWU must use its run-and-jump press to trap Wheaton’s weakest ballhandlers, according to Smith, who also wants improved rebounding.
“They are athletic,” she said. “I think they are fundamentally sound. They know how to reverse the ball. In their man defense, they close out correctly. They are always in help (position). They play a smart basketball game.”