Most students travelled home for the winter break to enjoy family time and maybe send up a few dabs on their way in to see “Rogue One” or “La La Land,” but not the men’s basketball team. The men travelled across the country to play two games in Las Vegas, Nev., and compete in the D3HOOPS.COM Classic. Unfortunately, after a long plane ride and a few days below the neon lights that so famously paint the desert sky, the Thunder went 0-2, falling to UC Santa Cruz 70-80 and Hardin-Simmons University 63-79.
The Thunder returned from break after a rocky 2-4 stretch in which they dropped all four away games including both in Las Vegas and games in Illinois Wesleyan University and Alma College. Despite the loss to Illinois Wesleyan, sophomore guard Aston Francis scored a career-high 39 points, the ninth-most points scored in a single game by a Wheaton men’s basketball player.
The Thunder then lost again on Wednesday night at North Park University in a heartbreaking 77-73 battle to extend their away losing streak to six games. However, the team won both games at home over the break against Calvin College and Carroll University, respectively.
If only the team could play every game in a packed King Arena, there seems to be no reason to expect anything other than total dominance as the men are 5-1 at home and on a four game win streak in King Arena. Unfortunately, this is just not realistic.
Now, entering the heart of CCIW play, the Thunder are 6-8 overall and 2-3 in conference. There is still a new hope for the Thunder, a second wind perhaps. A strong showing in the CCIW really sets up the young team for success in this season and next year, especially since all of the players from this year’s roster could be returning.
The next game in King Arena is this Saturday at 7 p.m. as the Thunder look to extend their home win streak and take down Millikin University in front of a packed crowd.