The Indiana Wesleyan women’s basketball team was on the defensive Wednesday.
That was a very good thing for the Wildcats too.
IWU put the clamps on the nation’s highest-scoring team to turn back Olivet Nazarene 78-65 in an opening round game of the NAIA Division II National Championship in Sioux City, Iowa.
IWU, ranked No. 17 and the No. 5 seed in the tourney, advances to play No. 1 Southeastern (Florida) in the Round of 16 on Friday at 1 p.m.
The Wildcats took a 6-5 lead early and never trailed again in the contest. IWU led 35-22 at halftime in holding No. 16 ranked Olivet to its lowest-scoring half of the season.
IWU held Olivet, a No. 4 seed, to its second-lowest point total of the year. Olivet entered the game averaging 97.1 points-per-game, the tops in the country.
Nicole Ignasiak had a huge game for IWU. The junior netted a career-high 30 points as she hit 11-13 field goals and 8-10 free throws to go with 12 rebounds.
Freshman Dayton Groninger had seven points for the Wildcats. The former WCHS star also had five rebounds for the winners.
IWU improves to 25-8, while Olivet Nazarene finishes at 23-10.
Bethel Men Sidelined
The Bethel College men’s team saw its season end Wednesday in the NAIA Division II National Championship.
Oklahoma Wesleyan tied the game in the final minute and then topped the Pilots 83-75 in overtime for the first round win in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
No. 18 Bethel led 64-60 with 56 seconds to play before No. 16 Oklahoma Wesleyan tied the contest. Wesleyan then hit 12 free throws in the overtime period to notch the win.
Senior Tanner Shepherd closed his collegiate career with a big game to pace the Pilots. The senior forward drained 23 points. Shepherd, who played at Triton, also had eight rebounds.
Will Stueve of the Pilots was honored with the NAIA Champion of Character Award prior to the game. Stueve, a senior forward, played at NorthWood High School.
Bethel is now 13-2 all-time in first round games of the NAIA Tournament.
The Pilots finish the season at 22-10.