GREATEST GAMES IN TITAN HISTORY
(I'm looking for people to send me reports on the Illinois State game in '69, the Arizona game in '83, and all of the other legendary IWU games. If you'd be willing to do a report, please E.Mail me. Thanks!)
This topic was suggested by a Titan fan via E.Mail. So I open it up to you to submit your report on great Titan games. E.Mail me at email@example.com and I will simply edit and copy your write-up here. Provide any commentary, statistics, or other information you would like!
(In chronological order)
* March 9, 1966...NAIA TOURNAMENT
Illinois Wesleyan 96
Midwestern (Tx) 82
(Submitted by Lanny Lobdell, IWU '64)
IWU 50 46 96
Midwestern,TX 40 42 82
Midwestern U. of Wichita Falls, TX was the 5th seeded team in the 32 team field in the 1966 NAIA National Tournament. They had two great palyers, 6'5" Earl Beechum who averaged 25 pts a game and 6'9" center Ron Woodrum, a Chicago recruit for M'western (they gave full scholarships-I think 12 full scholarships). Beechum had scored 46 points in the first round game the day before. He was so good that one opposing team tried to stop him from getting the ball (during a regular season game) that they stalled the entire game and the final score was 9-8! This was long before the shot clock and the 3-point shot and maybe even before the 1&1 FT rule.
Bridges developed a defensive game plan to stop Beechum but never had time to practice it. 1966 was the year we played 3 consecutive 10:30 pm games on Tuesday, Wednesday (this game) and Thursday. Due to overtimes, injuries, and tight scheduling in the prior 7 games on 3-9-66, the game didn't get started until after 11:00pm!
IWU shot 54% (41 of 76) and limited M'western to 43% (32 of 74). Steve Laub, IWU's greatest athlete in the history of the school (my opinion and shared by many), a 6'2" junior guard from Octavia was the hero. He set what at that time was an NAIA Nat'l Tournament record for highest FG percentage by making all 8 of his FG atempts. He was also 4 for 4 from the line for a "perfect" game as he finished with 20 points. Of course, no 3 pointers either and I would guress that at least half of his 8 FG atttempts were the equivalent of today's 3 pointer. Also, Jim Gresham, a 6'2" senior forward from Washington, IL had a very impressive game. He scored 20 (10 of 17 FGs) and led the first half charge by hitting 7 of 10 FGs. His spot on the court was the left corner. He was deadly from there and I'm sure several of his 10 FGs would have been 3 pointers also.
Beechum was held to 19 by IWU's ingenious defense. Bridges and his intelligent players discussed his specailly designed defense to double up on Beechum at every opportunity. Beechum was the complete package-a deadly outside game combined with explosive moves to the basket. Jamie Shouba, a 6'3" forward (and transfer from Bradley) gaurded Beechum with considerable help from Laub and others. Dennie's defensive plan and our execution of it limited the frustrated Beechum to 5 lst half points. The irony was that Gresham was the team's top defensive player and Shouba was not known for his defensive skill. Jamie was unstoppable inside but really wasn't excited at the defensive end and his teamates kidded him about his defense. But he played the defensive game of his life that night. IWU was outrebounded by the taller Midwestern by only 5 (48-43). Bill Patterson played the last 5 minutes of the 2nd half and was 4 for 6 from the field as Laub and Lagow, our guards, were tired.
Bill Patterson (IWU '67) also on that game:
(Bill currently resides in Denver, Co. He scored 547 pts in the '66-67 season, the 8th best single season total in IWU history.)
Bob--had to send you a note. I loved the new feature on greatest games. That was probably the biggest win I played in at IWU, and it was amazing. We were huge underdogs, and Dennie walked us through a special defense for their great scorers, but we never got to practice it live. We had a very smart team, and after the game, the Carthage coach at the time, Larry ______?, was just amazed that we had picked this special defense up without even getting on the court. He remarked that his kids would never have been able to do that.
The thing I remember most about the game was what probably makes Dennie Bridges a great coach--he understood us. I had played alot, as the third guard, because Dale LaGow had gotten in foul trouble, and I had played well, and was pretty instrumental in the outcome, and with about 1 or 2 minutes left in the game, Dennie took me out and put Dale back in. As I was coming off the court, Coach shook my hand, and then apologized to me for taking me out, and said something like, "Pat, I know you deserve to finish the game, but Dale is a senior, and I need him tomorrow night." Geez, I was just thrilled to have been a part of it, and couldn't believe he was apologizing to me, but I sure felt good about it.
Thanks for the memories.
* FEBRUARY 1981 -- REGULAR SEASON GAME VS WHEATON
Illinois Wesleyan 99
Wheaton 97 (Triple overtime)
(submitted by Thomas Sours, IWU '63)
Having seen Titan games in all 3 gyms, all CCIW away gyms, and many others
since 1958, I suggest the greatest game ( of the 600 plus I've seen ) was the
Triple OT versus Wheaton in the 80/81 season. Certainly one of the most
exciting Titan wins ever and a beacon in a bad (for Wesleyan ) 15-11 season.
T. Sours IWU 63
* March 8, 1997...NCAA TOURNAMENT, ROUND 2
Illinois Wesleyan 54
Rose Hulman 53
(Submitted by "anonymous")
My nomination for a "Great Titan Game" was possibly one of the ugliest IWU games I have ever seen! But boy was it a thriller. I kept the Pantagraph from that day, so I'll provide a brief summary.
After destroying Maryville (Mo.) 105-66 in the first round of the 1997 NCAA Tournament, the Titans had to face 19-9 Rose Hulman, who the Titans beat in December of that season 88-63. At that time they were without two of their starters however.
In an extremely low scoring affair, the Titans controlled the game 39-31 with 12:47 remaining in the game until the Engineers went on a 12-0 run to take a 42-39 lead at the 6:00 mark. The Titans couldn't do anything right as Rose Hulman applied ferrocious defense. Finally, at the 5:25 mark, the play that sparked a strong Titan finish. Andy Boyden got the ball at the free line extended right and took it to the basket and dunked with two hands over 2 Rose Hulman players. 42-41 Engineers. Then it was reserved forward Matt Hoder's turn -- Hoder scored all 7 of his points in that game in the final 4:38, hitting big shot after big shot.
Coming into the final minute the game was a tight as could be. Coach Bridges kept walking up and down the Titan bench and finally decided to stand at the very end of the bench, almost in line with the basket. Troy Halt of Rose Hulman (who scored 29 pts in this game) made two free throws to make it 52-50 RH with :58 left. IWU star Bryan Crabtree countered with two free throws at the :43 mark for a tie. Then with 22 seconds remaining Rose Hulman's Kent Murphy was fouled -- he made 1 of 2 for a 53-52 Engineer lead. Dennie Bridges called time out. Talk about a tense Shirk Center. 3500 people wondering if the dream of IWU's first national championship would die.
The stage was set -- :22 seconds on the clock, Titans down 1 inbounding under Rose Hulman's basket. IWU got the ball into the front court and into the hands of #34, Bryan Crabtree. 15, 14, 13. From the right wing Crabtree dribbled right to the baseline where he almost lost the ball! Then, with 2 guys on him who forced him BEHIND THE BACKBOARD (I was sitting directly in line with it) Crabtree rose up and hit a 10 foot jump shot. I'm telling you that shot only missed the backboard padding by an inch or so! The Shirk Center went crazy. Rose Hulman had a shot to win it at a buzzer but Nathan Hubbard played tremendous defense on the shooter and the shot did not go. Crabtree told the Pantagraph, "I didn't have much of an angle. I leaned in a little and had an open shot. I'd say that's the biggest shot I've ever made."
Titan point totals: Crabtree 22, Niebrugge 8, Boyden 8, Hoder 7, Hubbard 4, Coon 4, Baines 2. It was the lowest scoring for IWU since 1985-86!
It wasn't the prettiest game in the world, and IWU did not execute very well throughout most of the game, but as far as Great Titan Games go, this was definitely one. IWU of course went on to win the national championship behind star Bryan Crabtree and a bunch of role players who wouldn't give up.