By: CAMERON MCCARTNEY
The IU South Bend women’s basketball team faced the No. 8-ranked Cougars of Saint Xavier University at home on Saturday, Jan. 11. The Cougars limited their turnovers to eight and ultimately topped the Lady Titans 82-67.
This brings IUSB to 12-5 overall and 2-3 in the Chicago Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC).
In the first half, Maegan Callaway paced the Titan’s with 12 points and seven rebounds to keep the game close. Emily Strilich, who just joined the 1,000-point club during the squad’s previous game, added another 10 points, while Nichole Sly made two buckets from beyond the arc.
The Titans also were 9-for-9 in free-throw attempts, but the hot-shooting Cougars, who connected on 50 percent of their three-point attempts (6-of-12) in the first half, held a 44-37 halftime advantage.
“Emily is having a terrific senior year,” noted Head Coach Steve Bruce of his senior forward. “She has committed herself to excellence. Her day-to-day efforts and team attitude set the bar in terms of leadership and making the full effort to be the best you can be.”
In the locker room, Bruce encouraged the team to play one possession at a time to even the score, and then go from there, but Saint Xavier held on for the win. Callaway finished with a double-double with 26 points and 14 rebounds.
Sly led the Titans with 13 assists, while Strilich ended the game with 16 points and seven rebounds.
“We are still a good basketball team, we need to stay together and stay confident,” Bruce said after the game. “We will work our way through this and we will be fine. In terms of individual improvement during the course of the season, no one in particular stands out. We are trying to make slow and steady progress individually, which will have a larger, positive effect on our team.”
Bruce added that he is pleased with the team so far this season.
“Though we are currently in a three-game losing streak, I remain positive that we will be competing for a NAIA National Tourney bid in late February.”
The Titans snapped the losing skid with a 73-47 victory over Trinity International University four nights later on the road, and continued preparing for their last stretch of 11 regular-season games, including three against teams that are currently ranked.
“As we did last year, we want to be playing our best basketball at CCAC tourney time, and I expect that to happen,” Bruce said. “All of our conference games are important and meaningful.”
The remaining games against last year’s national tournament teams are (No. 17-ranked) Roosevelt, (No. 6) Cardinal Stritch, Olivet Nazarene and (No. 24) Purdue Cal.
“Those games are extremely important,” Bruce said. “Winning against those four teams brings us recognition, and would strongly assist us in our goal to reach the national tournament.”