Wheaton (Ill.) tops Elmhurst 92-85 in a key CCIW road win

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Elmhurst, Ill. - The Wheaton men's basketball team picked up its fourth-consecutive victory on Saturday night with a 92-85 victory at Elmhurst College (9-7, 4-3 CCIW). Wheaton improves to 12-4 overall and 5-2 in CCIW play with tonight's win.

Aston Francis scored 36 points to lead four Thunder players in scoring double digits tonight. Francis tallied a double-double as he also grabbed 11 rebounds and distributed four assists. Spencer Peterson scored 14 points with eight rebounds for the Thunder. Luke Anthony scored 13 points off the Thunder bench on 4-of-6 shooting from the field. Luke Peters scored 12 points, with six rebounds and three assists. Peters played well defensively for the Thunder tonight. Kobe Eichelberger scored nine points for the guests. Anajuwon Spencer collected eight rebounds for the Thunder.

Wheaton shot 45.5% (30-of-66) from the field, including 31% (9-of-29) behind three three-point arc. Elmhurst posted a 38.7% (29-of-27) field goal percentage tonight, including 44.4% (12-of-27) from three-point range. Wheaton had an 85.2% (23-of-27) free throw percentage tonight and the Bluejays shot 88.2% (15-of-17) at the charity stripe. Wheaton out-rebounded the hosts 37-38 as each team gathered 13 offensive rebounds.

Tonight's matchup was tied 9-9 with 15:30 remaining in the first half when a Peterson three-pointer gave Wheaton a 12-9 lead and sparked an 11-4 run for the Thunder as Wheaton held a 10-point lead at 23-13 with 10:00 left in the opening half. Elmhurst responded with 12 unanswered points, including seven points by Jeremy Ireland in the run,  as the hosts gained a 25-23 lead with 6:30 remaining in the first half. A three-pointer by Elmhurst's Ryan Patton with 1:43 remaining in the first half were the final points of the half as Elmhurst led 39-34 at halftime.

Wheaton scored the first seven points of the second half thanks to a pair of layups by Peterson and an Eichelberger three-pointer. The 7-0 run for the Thunder gave the guests a 41-39 lead with 16:20 remaining in the second half. The score was knotted at 43-43 with 14:37 left in regulation when a layup by Peters began a string of five-consecutive points by the senior as his effort gave Wheaton a 48-43 lead with 13:14 left in the game. Peters' five-point run to break the tie gave Wheaton the lead for good as the Bluejays never had a lead or tied the game in the remainder of the contest. Wheaton's lead bulged to as much as 11 points, on three occasions, in the final seven minutes of the game. Wheaton's third and final 11-point lead was the result of a Francis three-pointer as his trifecta gave Wheaton a 79-68 lead with 5:06 left in regulation.

Ireland led the Bluejays with 22 points. Derek Dotlich led the hosts with 17 points and seven rebounds. Jake Rhode scored 13 points, with eight assists and four steals. Peters guarded the Bluejays' standout guard tonight as Rhode shot 3-of-10 from the field, with a strong defensive effort by Peters. Nick Perry scored eight points, with six rebounds and four assists.

Wheaton hosts second-ranked Augustana on Wednesday in a key CCIW matchup in King Arena. Wednesday's game tips off at 7:00 p.m.