MARION, Ind. -- Following a slow start to the game on Saturday the top-ranked Indiana Wesleyan University women's basketball team played the part of No. 1 in the country with an 86-40 blowout of Goshen (Ind.) College on Senior Day in Luckey Arena.
"We started slow," said Indiana Wesleyan head coach Steve Brooks. "I think part of that was Senior Day and the kids were a little emotional with the idea of taking the floor in a sense for their last regular season game."
Both teams struggled for the first eight minutes of action as Indiana Wesleyan (28-2, 17-1 MCC) held a minimal 9-8 lead. But the next seven minutes was completely dominated by Indiana Wesleyan to the tune of a 22-2 run to capture a 31-10 lead with less than five minutes remaining before halftime.
"I think we settled in, especially defensively," added Brooks. "We played better and we played hard."
The lead grew to as many as 24 points in the first half before the Wildcats took a 37-15 lead into the break.
Goshen (3-27, 0-18 MCC) scored quickly out of the second half gate but that would be about all they could do against Indiana Wesleyan. IWU reeled off a 24-2 run to extend the lead to 61-19. Goshen was held scoreless for 6:10 during the stretch.
Freshman center Val Sohasky hit a pair of free throws with 1:42 left to play to give Indiana Wesleyan its largest lead of the afternoon at 50 (85-35). The 46 point margin of victory was the third highest this season for Indiana Wesleyan.
Everyone was able to play on Saturday and 11 of the 12 players scored. Each player was in the game for at least seven minutes while no one played more than 24. IWU shot 48.2-percent (27 of 56) from the floor and 47.4-percent (9 of 19) from beyond the 3-point line.
Senior center Krystal Stoneking led all players with 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting and a perfect 6-of-6 at the free throw line. Freshman Teneil Krebs added 12 points off the bench while senior guards Rachel Steinbarger and Stephanie Burtch each added 11 points.
Junior forward Paige Smith just missed a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds while freshman center Val Sohasky contributed eight points and four boards. Junior guard Claire Freeman finished with five points, seven boards and four assists while freshman point guard Emma Stahl earned five points and five assists.
It was Senior Day for Indiana Wesleyan as four seniors played their final home regular season game in Luckey Arena. All four seniors, Ashley Brooks, Stephanie Burtch, Rachel Steinbarger, and Krystal Stoneking, checked out of the game together for the final time with seven minutes remaining as the Luckey crowd gave them a standing ovation.
"They've been an amazing group," stated Brooks. "They have done a lot for our program the last four years, especially in the last two years we've had great contributions from every one of them. It's hard to watch them graduate but that's part of it. Hopefully this experience has been something that they can carry with them the rest of their life."
The four seniors have a record of 110-25 (.815) overall and 55-11 (.833) in the Mid-Central College Conference. They have won three straight MCC regular season championships plus one MCC Tournament title in 2011. This will be their fourth consecutive trip to the NAIA Division II National Championship Tournament with a Second Round, Fab Four, and Elite Eight finish the past three seasons.
Indiana Wesleyan becomes the first program in the MCC to win 17 conference games. Indiana Wesleyan previously held the record with a perfect 16-0 season in 2006-07 but with the addition to Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio) University this year teams played 18 MCC contests.
To top things off Indiana Wesleyan receives a MCC Tournament First Round pairing with Grant County rival and No. 8-seed Taylor (Ind.) University. The game will be in Luckey at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 21. The two teams just played on Wednesday with Indiana Wesleyan escaping Odle Arena 62-60.
Brooks added about playing Taylor in the First Round on Tuesday, "If you can't get excited about that then there is something wrong."