FRANKLIN, Ind. – Senior forward Gunner Erwin scored a career-high 29 points, including the game-winning basket, as Franklin College topped No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan 67-66 in a men's basketball thriller in the Spurlock Center gym this afternoon.
The Grizzlies improved to 5-0 at home and upped their overall record to 7-4. The Titans, ranked 17th in the most recent D3hoops.com Top 25 Poll, dropped to 8-3.
Erwin hit incredibly key shots all afternoon – most of his 3-point bombs keeping Illinois Wesleyan at bay – but none was as big as his driving layup on the left side of the north basket with less than a second left to give FC its decisive point.
His game-winning score came after driving most of the length of the floor past a stunned Titan defense.
Erwin hit 12 of 20 shots, including 5 of 10 attempts from 3-point range, to finish with a game- and career-best 29 points. He also grabbed 6 rebounds.
Junior guards Bailey Howard and J.T. Barton added 14 and 10 points, respectively, for the hosts.
Erwin's heroics came after IWU rallied from a four-point deficit with just 1:15 remaining to take its one-point advantage at 66-65 with six seconds to go.
Junior forward Andrew Ziemnik hit two clutch free throws with six seconds left after teammate Pat Sodemann knocked down two foul shots with 47 seconds remaining.
Ziemnik earlier trimmed FC's lead to three points by dropping in a free throw with 50 seconds to go.
Illinois Wesleyan trailed by as many as nine points at 48-39 with 14:52 left, but fought back to close to within one point at 53-52 at the 9:03 mark.
The contest then remained tight the rest of the way.
The Titans, who outshot the Grizzlies 52.4 to 48.0 percent, were led by Ziemnik with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists. Sodemann, a sophomore guard, and senior center Kevin Reed tallied 11 points each.