Wheaton, Ill. – The Wheaton Thunder men's basketball team picked up its third-consecutive victory on Wednesday night with a 97-92 conference win at home against Carroll University (4-9, 0-3 CCIW). Wheaton improves to 9-3 overall and 3-1 in CCIW play with tonight's victory against the Pioneers.
Aston Francis led the Thunder with 40 points tonight, a mark that ties for 12th on Wheaton's single-game scoring list. Francis shot 11-of-22 from the field, including 7-of-14 behind the three-point arc. The junior added seven rebounds.
Kobe Eichelberger contributed 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field tonight. He grabbed a game-high nine rebounds for the hosts. Ricky Samuelson scored 15 points on 4-for-5 shooting from three-point range. Jay Spencer had a 4-of-5 effort from the field tonight to score 12 points and he added five rebounds. Luke Peters distributed eight assists on the night and Zack Kvam added four assists.
The Pioneers led 22-21 with 6:45 left in the first half when Francis made a three-pointer that sparked a 7-0 Thunder run to give the hosts a 28-22 lead with 6:20 left in the opening half. Wheaton extended its first-half lead to as many as eight points with a 40-32 advantage with 2:55 left before halftime. The hosts held a 45-41 lead at the halftime intermission.
Wheaton continued to lead throughout the second half as the hosts' largest lead of the game was a 16-point bulge at 76-60 with 8:00 left in the game. Wheaton led 91-78 with 2:10 remaining in the game when the Pioneers scored six unanswered points to cut Wheaton's lead to 91-84 with 29-seconds remaining. Wheaton was a perfect 6-of-6 at the free throw line in the final 19-seconds to remain in front of the Pioneers and hold on for the win.
Francis scored 26 of his 40 points in the second half tonight. Francis shot 7-of-10 from the field, including 4-of-7 from three-point range, and he was 8-for-9 at the free throw line in the half. Wheaton shot 61.9% (13-of-21) from the field in the second half, including 58.3% (7-of-12) from three-point range. The Thunder had an 82.6% (19-of-23) effort at the free throw line after halftime.
Joel Heesch led Carroll with 26 points and eight assists. Tanner Zaeske scored 19 points and Anthony Marlowe scored 18 points with five assists. Charlie Soule added 16 points and seven rebounds off the Pioneers' bench.
Wheaton shot 55.8% (29-of-52) from the field for the game, including 57.7% (15-of-26) behind the three-point arc. Carroll posted a 54.5% (36-of-66) field goal percentage, including 47.1% (8-of-17) from three-point range. The Thunder shot 77.4% (24-of-31) at the free throw line and the Pioneers had an 80% (12-of-15) effort at the charity stripe. The hosts out-rebounded Carroll 33-25 tonight, including a 9-8 edge on the offensive glass for Wheaton.
Wheaton hosts North Park (4-7, 1-2 CCIW) on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in King Arena.