By: Ashley Rose
Within 72 hours of each other, the IU South Bend men’s and women’s basketball teams won their CCAC Tournament Championships.
Prior to the championship game, the men’s team competed against St. Francis and won, where they moved on to play No. 1 seeded team Olivet Nazarene University, where the Titans caused an upset, beating the school 89-76.
On Feb. 25, the men’s team played No. 2 seed Saint Xavier University in the 2023 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) for the 2023 Championship title. The Titans brought home the dub on this game with a score of 67-65, securing the victory at the Shannon Center.
The game started slow as the score after the first half was 31-35, Saint Xavier up. It wasn’t until the 13 minute mark of the second half that senior guard Sam Snodgrass stepped in to provide a four-point play that gave IU South Bend the lead. They held onto this lead for the rest of the game, winning them the championship.
High scorers for the night included junior forward Dejon Barney and senior guard Kenny Washington, who tied, scoring 14 points each. Barney also went on to author a double-double with his 10 rebounds. Washington has since been placed on the All CCAC Honorable Mention team for the 2022-23 season. Barney was selected to join the First Team All CCAC selection for the 2022-23 year.
Following Barney and Washington, senior guard Donyell Meredith II finished with 12 points in Saturday’s game, shooting 40% from the three point line and 44% from the field. Meredith has also been placed on the First Team All CCAC selection.
This CCAC title is the third title the Titan men’s team has won in the last four years. For many of the players on the team, this is the third title they have gotten to experience. One of these players includes senior forward Miles Tracy, who is feeling especially thankful for this experience.
“It was another experience winning in college, because so many of us didn’t experience a championship win like this in high school. Last year was discouraging because we didn’t perform as well as we expected, but we used that as motivation for this year,” Tracy said. “It’s been nice to grow up with my fellow teammates, seeing everyone mature not just on the court, but off the court.”
Just days after the men’s team punched their ticket to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Tournament, the women’s basketball team did the same. On Feb. 27, the Titans defeated the IU Northwest Redhawks in a score of 87-65. This was their first championship win since 2005 and the first time both the men’s and women’s teams have won in the same year since 2009.
It was no surprise when No. 1 ranked IU South Bend brought home the championship. Their season started off strong and continued to be successful as the women’s team went 26-2 prior to the final game.
High scorers for the night included the Gard sisters, who pulled out all the stops. Senior Maddie Gard scored a season-high number of points with 25 points for the night, shooting on 10-14 from the field. This was Maddie Gard’s fifth time scoring over 20 points in a game, leading her to score over 400 points for the 2022-23 basketball season.
Trailing right behind her was her twin sister Katie Gard, who brought in 20 points for the game, shooting a 7-11 on top of a perfect 4-4 on the free throw line.
Both Gard sisters have been chosen to join the First Team All CCAC selection for the 2022-23 year, as they were the two leading scorers for the women’s team for this season.
Junior guard Jazmen Watts scored 13 points for the Titans, shooting 5-8 from the field and a perfect 2-2 on the three point line.
Forward Rachael Robards led the Titans in three pointers this season, earning her a position on the All CCAC Honorable Mention selection. Center Tia Chambers was awarded CCAC Newcomer of the Year award, and on top of this was invited to join the Second Team All CCAC selection.
Sophomore Amaya Rufus, a guard on the team, loved experiencing her first college Championship.
When asked if she thought the women’s team had a chance of winning, Rufus responded, “we definitely thought we had a shot. Last year we didn’t make it to the championship, but we only lost two seniors, so we expected to have a strong team.”
Rufus and the team were correct in predicting to be strong, but little did they know they would have a record-breaking season, losing only two games.
The women on the team weren’t the only ones to experience success. Women’s basketball coach Steve Bruce did not just lead the women’s team to a Championship title, but he was announced as the CCAS 2022-23 coach of the year. This is Bruce’s sixteenth season as head coach of the women’s team, and undoubtedly the most successful season in history for IU South Bend women’s basketball.