The Thunder’s women’s basketball team put their impressive six-game win streak on the line this past weekend during the course of the CCIW women’s basketball tournament. After adding two more hard-fought games to their resume, the women would eventually end the weekend with an eight-game win streak and the school’s third straight CCIW tournament championship.
On Friday, Feb 24., the Thunder played Augustana in the second semi-final game for the CCIW tournament and claimed a decisive 96-66 victory. The Vikings led the game through the first few minutes of the first quarter. Yet the Thunder quickly responded with a 14-4 run that secured their lead for the rest of the game.
The girls excelled as a team and racked up several personal achievements. During the game, senior guard Katie McDaniels reached 500 points this season, the third player in program history to do so. She scored 24 points and dished out five assists during the win. The victory secured Thunder’s place in the CCIW Tournament Championship game the next day.
On Saturday, Wheaton played their third game of the week against Illinois Wesleyan in the CCIW Championship. It was a tense game that went back-and-forth as the Titans challenged the Thunder in every aspect of the game. The fourth quarter, however, saw a decisive change in Wheaton’s favor. Senior guard Ellie Zeller sank a basket that started a 15-2 run.
Freshmen center Jill Berg was also instrumental in making eight blocks and scoring 10 points that secured the victory and the CCIW tournament championship for the Thunder. Junior guard Kelly Lawson chipped in 12 points, too.
“I think the key thing that changed was we started getting more stops in a row and I thought the composure of our seniors down the stretch was huge,” head coach Kent Madsen said in a post-game interview. “The amount of big shots they hit was just incredible.”
Before the tournament started, the All-CCIW team selections were made, and four of the Wheaton women were chosen for first or second team.
Lawson and McDaniels were honored as First Team All-CCIW selections. Sophomore forward Devin Kyler and senior guard Chantal Meacham were selected for the Second Team All-CCIW. The dominant McDaniels was also awarded CCIW Most Outstanding Player of the Year for the second year in a row. She is the first Wheaton player to ever receive this ranking twice. The awards continued to flow as head coach Kent Madsen was also named CCIW Coach of the Year.
The Thunder will take their recent success down to St. Louis this weekend for the NCAA Division III National Tournament where they face Rose Hulman in the first round on Friday, March 3.