The Thunder women’s basketball team returned to King Arena this week after beating conference rival North Central in Naperville 109-60. The win placed Wheaton on top of the CCIW with a single conference loss on the season to North Park University. Wheaton sought revenge against the Vikings on Wednesday night.
Wheaton started the game off with a three by sophomore guard Chantal Meacham but were incapable to get things heated up and missed several of their following shots for the first five minutes of the game.
The Vikings gained an 11-5 advantage over the course of the half’s first six minutes until head coach Kent Madsen called a time out to refocus the offense.
Junior guard Ellie Zeller returned from the timeout on a mission, landing a jumper and two three pointers consecutively to gain a one-point lead for the Thunder.
The Thunder’s scrappy defense kept offensive possessions lingering all the way up to 27 seconds on average in the first half for North Park and made it difficult for them to capitalize on any sort of good shot selection. Wheaton recorded 12 points off turnovers on eight Viking giveaways.
North Park scavenged their way back into the game off a pair of free throws to find themselves tied with the Thunder at 19 with 8:15 left in the first half.
From that point, the Thunder went on an 8-2 scoring run to complete the half. Junior center Hannah Considine scored seven of those eight with five points from the charity stripe and a jumper.
The Thunder frontcourt effectively out rebounded the Vikings 23-15 through the first half with 10 offensive rebounds.
The half finished at a rather low score of 27-21 with both teams shooting 32 percent from the field.
The second half started off strong for the Thunder and specifically for Meacham who hit threes at 18:05 and again at 16:04.
North Park returned from the halftime break in a full court zone that they used to deny sophomore point guard Katie McDaniels from being able to effectively set up the Thunder’s offense. Once the Thunder crossed the half court line, the Vikings transitioned into a two-three zone. The zone did not seem to weaken the Thunder’s offense. However, the press detoured a lot of Wheaton’s momentum and hindered several of the half court plays that Wheaton wanted to run.
Vikings’ Guard Liz Rehgberger drained a three at 12:02 followed by a series of jumpers by North Park that brought the Wheaton lead down to two, 39-37.
Even so, the Thunder roared back, going on a 9-2 run that Meacham capped off by scoring on a driving lay up though the lane. Meacham’s basket made the Thunder’s lead 48-39.
Considine converted on an and-one with 4:12 left thanks to a McDaniels assist after a brilliant display of passing through the Viking full court zone. Considine converted again in the post at 3:15 to give the Thunder their largest lead of the game 57-41.
The Thunder closed out the game to win 63-48 over the North Park team who had given them their only conference loss of the season. Zeller lead the team in points, scoring 19 while shooting 46 percent.
Junior guard Moriah Reeves recorded 13 rebounds with three assists and two steals. Reeves was an integral player in the game and made important defensive steals and rebounds to give the Thunder extra possessions.
After their victory tonight and Saturday in Naperville, Wheaton now sits atop the CCIW as the undisputed conference leaders with a 19-2 record, 9-1 in conference. The Thunder play the Elmhurst Bluejays for their second-to-last home game of the regular season in King Arena on Saturday.