Wednesday men: Thunder road

More news about: Hiram | Hope | Ohio Northern | Wheaton (Ill.)
Aston Francis reached the 40-point plateau for the third time this season and the Thunder knocked off No. 2 Augustana 86-81.
File photo by Wheaton (Ill.) athletics.

Wheaton (Ill.) scoring machine Aston Francis poured in 40 points and the Thunder topped No. 2 Augustana in Rock Island. Elsewhere Ohio Northern and Hiram showed they are conference title contenders and Hope made its only lead over arch rival Calvin count.

Wheaton built a 15-point lead over Augustana early in the second half, but the Vikings trimmed the lead to three on a Nolan Ebel three-pointer. The rest of the game was characterized by Wheaton extending its lead to a couple possessions and Augustana cutting the deficit back to three. The Thunder put the game away when Aston Francis hit a step-back three pointer with 55 seconds left to give him 40 points and his team enough room to finish an 86-81 victory. Recap

Wheaton (11-3, 5-1) moves alone into first place in the CCIW by virtue of its win over Augustana (11-3, 2-2) and Illinois Wesleyan having the night off.

There are four teams within one game of each other in the OAC standings, and Ohio Northern is the only one not in the Top 25. That didn't stop the Polar Bears from winning at No. 25 Baldwin Wallace 80-73. Nate Burger (27 points, seven rebounds) and Ryan Bruns (23 points and six rebounds) paced the Polar Bears who improved to 10-4, 5-2 in the conference. Ohio Northern moves into a three-way tie for second with Baldwin Wallace and No. 19 Marietta which rolled over Mount Union 78-57. All three are one game behind No. 23 John Carroll which crushed Otterbein 122-66.

Hiram showed its a factor in the NCAC title chase with an 88-79 win at No. 17 Ohio Wesleyan. Kelvin Jones had 21 points and 14 rebounds for the Terriers who sit in a three-way tie for second with OWU and Wooster. No. 10 Wittenberg stayed two games in front of trio by taking care of Wabash 72-58.

UW-River Falls won the top matchup of the night between WIAC teams, as the Falcons rallied at home in the second half to beat UW-Platteville 91-84. Alex Herink, Clay Seifert and Devin Buckley combined for 40 of River Falls' 56 points in the second half.

No. 12 Lycoming also rallied late to edge Albright 86-65 in a battle of MAC Commonwealth contenders. Albright built an 11-point lead with three minutes to play but the Warriors scored six points quickly to pull within 82-77. Lycoming's TJ Duckett banked in a three-pointer with a minute left to cut the deficit to two and the Warriors completed their comeback when D'Yante Doughty drew a foul with five seconds left and made the game-winning free throws. 

Outside the Top 25, Hope and Calvin added another thrilling chapter to Division III basketball's premier rivalry as the Flying Dutchmen came from behind to beat Calvin, 77-72. The Knights opened the game with a 13-0 run and led all the way until the final minute when Dennis Towns hit a jump shot to put Hope in front 71-69. Jason Beckman scored 25 points for Hope (8-6, 2-1) and Dante Hawkins added 21 more, including the 1000th of his career.

The middle of the MIAC race remains messy after Bethel beat Augsburg 78-67 and Carleton dropped its third straight, this time losing to Hamline 51-47. The MIAC standings have five teams within two games of each other behind frontrunner St. John's. The Johnnies will try to exend their winning streak to 10 games when the play at Augsburg on Saturday.

After starting the season 11-0, Nebraska Wesleyan lost its second game in three tries as Loras topped the Prairie Wolves 97-87 in overtime. Nebraska Wesleyan held the Duhawks scoreless for the final two minutes of regulation and tied the game on Jack Hiller's three-pointer with a minute to play. But Demond George hit two 3-pointers in the extra period and Loras improved to 11-4, 4-2 in the IIAC.

Rutgers-Camden kept things unpredictable in the NJAC as the Scarlet Raptors picked up their first conference win of the year and knocked off Montclair State, 72-71. Ramapo got back on track with an 86-76 win at Rowan and New Jersey City stifled Stockton, 81-67. The Roadrunners host the Gothic Knights for the first of two meetings on Saturday.

Justin Webster made a free throw with three seconds left to get Adrian into overtime against Trine and the Bulldogs pulled away for a 74-67 victory. Jeremy Kalonji scored 25 points for the Bulldogs (12-2, 3-0) who made 11 three-pointers. Farmingdale State topped SUNY Purchase 71-64 to take a half-game lead on the Panthers in the Skyline Conference standings. Mount St. Mary kept pace with the Rams by beating SUNY-Maritime 58-51.