Francis hits big shot; Saints hold off upset bid

More news about: Thomas More | Wheaton (Ill.)
Aston Francis takes a 3-pointer from the corner for Wheaton (Ill.) in a file photo by Michael Hudson.
Aston Francis hit a big shot on the road (not this shot) and lifted Wheaton past No. 8 Illinois Wesleyan.
Wheaton (Ill.) file photo by Michael Hudson

Aston Francis hit the biggest men's basketball shot of the night, burying a 3 at the buzzer to lift Wheaton at No. 8 Illinois Wesleyan, while the Thomas More women, playing their third road game in five days, held off Marietta's charge. More in Wednesday's recap.

Down one with five seconds to play, everyone in attendance at Wednesday night's CCIW battle at the Shirk Center knew who was getting the last shot for Wheaton. Aston Francis nailed a step-back 3-pointer from the top of the key as time expired, giving Wheaton a 90-88 victory over No. 8-ranked Illinois Wesleyan. The victory stops a two-game slide for the Thunder and moves their record to 6-2 overall and 1-1 in the CCIW while knocking Illinois Wesleyan from the ranks of the unbeatnes at 7-1, 1-1. Wheaton has now won consecutive games at the Shirk Center for the first time since 2009-10.

Aston Francis led five Thunder scorers in double figures, finishing with 27 points and a game-high eight assists. Jason Gregoire led three Titans in double figures with 21 points. Colin Bonnett scored 19 points and Brady Rose finished with 17 points.

Playing its third road game in five days, No. 4 Thomas More ground out an 81-75 win at Marietta. The Saints (9-0) closed the third quarter on a 14-3 run and took a 65-52 lead into the fourth quarter. Marietta (5-2) fought back and got within three points on Shay Lett's three-pointer with 1:23 to play. After the teams traded turnovers, Madison Temple scored a layup to give the Saints some breathing room and then added a free throw with seven seconds left to close out the scoring. Temple finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Elsewhere in Wednesday's men's action, Marcus Curry's corner 3-pointer with 32 seconds left lifted Guilford to an 82-78 win over Lynchburg. Curry buried later made four free throws and grabbed a key rebound to ice the Quakers' win over their previously unbeaten Old Dominion Athletic Conference rivals. The No. 22 Hornets (7-1, 3-1 ODAC) rallied from a 14-point deficit with 7:54 left in regulation. Junior Kyler Gregory's first 3-pointer of the season opened a 69-54 margin, the Quakers' (4-4, 1-1) largest of the game. Lynchburg responded with a 19-5 run capped by Jesse Case's 3-pointer with 1:02 left in regulation that tied the score at 74-74.

Tony Diemer scored 38 points, 18 of them after regulation as Rockford outlasted Marian 116-110 in four overtimes. Tied at 74 at the end of regulation, an additional 20 minutes was needed to complete this NACC game. A Marian shot at the buzzer in regulation was no good, while Rockford fell short in the first overtime. Marian's Tyrese Pinson came up with a steal to keep the game tied after the second extra session, while Marian missed on a chance in overtime No. 3. Diemer scored eight points in the final period, including sealing the game with a perfect 6-for-6 from the line.

Freshman guard Anders Nelson scored all 18 of his points in the second half, including nine during a game-closing 22-10 run over the final 8:10, as host St. Thomas rallied to win 68-65. The Tommies (5-1, 2-0 MIAC) had only seven turnovers and shot 60 percent from the floor in the second half as they pushed their season winning streak to five. The Royals (3-4, 1-1) led 33-22 at halftime and built a 15-point cushion four minutes into the second half before its offense stalled down the stretch. The visitors had no baskets, going 0-for-6 from the floor, and scored just three free throws in the final 5:00.

In other women's action, No. 3 St. Thomas pulled away for a 73-64 win to keep its perfect record in the MIAC and overall intact. Hannah Spaulding was limited to 29 minutes by foul trouble but scored five points to key the Tommies' game-winning run. Hannah Johnson had 27 points and 11 rebounds in 38 minutes for the Royals. 

Macenzie Kraemer and Riley Eckhart combined to score 43 points, but that still wasn't enough for Loras, as No. 17 Wartburg dropped the Duhawks, 76-64. The Knights (6-1) outscored Loras 46-18 in the paint, led by Emma Gerdes' 16 points, seven steals, six assists and six rebounds. No. 19 Gettysburg ran its winning streak within the Centennial Conference to 20 games, including a 5-0 start so far this year, by holding off McDaniel, 62-58. Kiera Cesareo scored 17 points in 28 minutes off the Bullets' bench.

Outside the Top 25, John Carroll rallied past Mount Union 61-58 and dealt the Purple Raiders their first loss of the season. Mount Union (6-1, 1-1) led 58-55 with under two minutes to play when Chelbi Graham scored a layup to pull the Blue Streaks (4-3, 1-1) within one point. After an empty Mount Union possession, Dani Carlson drew the foul and made two free throws to put John Carroll in front. Abby Alder added two more free throws on the Blue Streaks' next possession and the Purple Raiders missed the potential game-tying 3-pointer.

Cal Lutheran rode strong bench play to a 58-55 win over Chapman and improved to 3-0 in the SCIAC. The Regals' reserves outscored the Panthers' reserves 31-9. Cal Lutheran won despite committing 24 turnovers and a 21-point, eight steal performance by Chapman's Jaryn Fajardo.