IU South Bend took a 43-36 halftime lead and jumped out of the gate in the second period with a quick 16-0 run to break open a close game as they opened a season for the first time under head coach Steve Bruce with a victory, defeating Wilberforce 84-65.
Tiffanie Graham (South Bend, IN/Riley HS) led the Titans with 17 points, connecting on 6-of-9 from the floor and 4-of-6 from the free throw line.
The Titans jumped out to a quick lead, and the two teams played even for the balance of the opening minutes. "Our pregame warmup will always be indicitive of where we are mentally," remarked Bruce. "I thought it was really good."
Then, midway through the first half, IU South Bend extended a narrow, 20-18 advantage to double figures on three separate occasions, getting three point baskets from Lizzie Stapke (Highland, IN/Highland HS) and Ashley Hummer (South Bend, IN/Mishawaka Marian [Goshen College]). It would be the Bulldogs, however, who seized the momentum heading into the break, as they closed the gap to single-digits.
Again in the second half, after the Titans pulled out to their largest lead of the game, Wilberforce made a run, this time cutting the IU South Bend to 17. They would get no closer, however, as a Whitney Cole (North Judson, IN/North Judson [St. Joseph's (IN)]) triple and a Graham driving layup would push the Titan lead back above 20, where it remained for the remainder of the contest.
In all, the Titans shot 33-of-64 from the field, good for 51.6%, and connected on nine of their 23 attempts from behind the three-point line. IU South Bend also outrebounded the Bulldogs, pulling down 39 to the 30 for Wilberforce.
"The two most important things to me - team attitude and effort - were both outstanding tonight, on the court and on the sideline," said Bruce. "I was really pleased with that. Our bench was constantly working hard to support their teammates."
Graham led the way with her 17 points, while Betsy Grogan (Battle Ground, IN/West Lafayette Harrison) and Hummer each chipped in 13.
Wilberforce was led by Andrecia Smith, who scored a game-high 18 points, and Deidra Brown tallied 17.
The Titans return to action on Saturday, November 7, when they play host to Goshen College. Tip off at the Student Activities Center is slated for 12:00 noon.