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Impressive surge propels Titans

Impressive surge propels Titans

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ST. LOUIS — Although few would have blamed him, Scott Trost's timeout at the 11:19 mark of the second half Saturday was not to admire his Illinois Wesleyan basketball team's handiwork.

Maybe Trost knew something. Maybe the streaking Titans weren't done.

They weren't.

Having scored 14 consecutive points before the timeout, IWU returned to the WU Field House floor to complete an awe-inspiring 21-0 run that highlighted an 83-56 thrashing of Washington University before a crowd of 1,309.

"Our defense was great. The intensity was there. We made it difficult for them to enter their offense," Trost said. "If we can develop an identity that we're going to be tough to score on — and let that fuel our offense — we're going to be awfully tough to beat."

Rebounding with a passion and a proficiency that produced a 43-23 margin on the boards, No. 1-ranked Wesleyan improved to 6-0. The Bears, who had won their last six games, fell with a thud to 6-3.

"That's one of the best Division III performances I've seen since I've been here," said 25th-year Washington coach Mark Edwards. "We were hanging close and all of a sudden they blow it open. They're a great team. They're experienced. They're well coached. They're No. 1."

A Zach Freeman dunk early in the second half had staked the Titans to a 47-34 lead. A pair of Scott Stone 3-pointers helped the Bears close within 51-42 before IWU took off.

With point guard Adam Dauksas directing the IWU transition game like a symphony orchestra conductor, the Titans began to dismantle the Bears.

Three-pointers from Mike McGraw and Keelan Amelianovich, both off Dauksas assists, triggered the landslide.

A Dauksas steal and a fast break feed for a McGraw layup boosted the Wesleyan margin to 59-42.

"Adam was pushing the ball like crazy," said McGraw, who was 4 of 5 from the field and 3 of 4 from 3-point range for 11 points. "He's the best at doing that."

Two Freeman free throws and two Amelianovich jumpers pushed the score to 65-42, and caused Trost to take a timeout.

"I wanted to give our guys a break," explained Trost. "Keelan and Adam needed some rest."

Another McGraw 3-pointer, a Chris Jones bank shot and a pair of Amelianovich free throws completed the 21-point blitz.

"It was awesome," said Dauksas, who scored a season-low five points but handed out 12 assists. "I love spreading the ball around. It's so much fun when everybody is finishing like that. It's more fun than scoring."

Amelianovich paced all scorers with 23 points, and Freeman added 16. Chris Jones turned in matching 13s with 13 points and a career-high 13 rebounds.

"That's the kind of streak we have when we're playing to our potential," said Amelianovich, who also grabbed seven rebounds. "It's good defense, good rebounding and we're running."

What did Edwards wish his team wasn't doing during the Titans' overwhelming surge?

"Playing Illinois Wesleyan," he quickly responded.

While the Titans were shooting 52.5 percent from the field, they were holding Washington to 32.7 percent.

Bears' big men Troy Ruths (14 points) and 7-footer Mike Grunst connected on only 6 of 28 shots.

"It's all about attitude and their approach," Trost said of his team. "Adam pushed the ball, and we have post players who can run as well as anybody's."

Freshman Tyler Nading added 13 for Washington, which trailed 42-34 at halftime.

IWU will tackle final examinations in the coming week and return to action next Saturday in a 7:30 p.m. game against Illinois College in Jacksonville.

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