After a close loss to North Central College, Wheaton College rebounded with a strong victory over another CCIW rival Carthage College.
From the start on Saturday, Jan. 13, both of these CCIW teams were pretty evenly matched. North Central scored the first two points of the game, but the majority of the first half was back and forth.
“I thought we competed really hard against North Central,” senior Aston Francis said. By the end of the first half, Francis himself had scored 20 points already. Junior Trevor Gunter had scored eight points. On North Central’s side of the ball, they had three players score nine points or more. By the end of the first half, the score was tied at 41 even.
In the second half, Wheaton pulled ahead with a small, early lead. As the half went on, North Central began to pull away with an 11 point lead with 30 seconds left. “I thought we could have knocked down some shots at the end,” junior Kobe Eichelberger said. “We had some great opportunities at the end, but simply could not knock down shots. Missing all but one of their seven free throw attempts and capitalizing on four of their 16 three-pointer attempts, Wheaton struggled to get shots through the net while North Central succeeded in scoring when Wheaton did not.
“We just didn’t play very well in the second half, but the fact that we still had chances to win without playing well gives us some confidence,” Francis said.
Going into yesterday night’s game, Eichelberger said that, “we will need to focus on our defense and our ball movement against Carthage. Carthage’s biggest strengths would be their size and their individual talent.”
Francis reiterated that, “Carthage has some good posts that could give us trouble, but we have a solid game plan for them.”
Whatever their plan or strategy was, it worked. Yesterday night Wheaton beat the Carthage College Red Men 90-81 to improve the Thunder’s overall record to 12-4 and their CCIW record to 6-2. Wheaton scored the first points of the game when Eichelberger got a defensive rebound and scored a fast three-pointe. Throughout the first half, Wheaton capitalized on more of their opportunities with better field goal percentages across the board. At the end of the first half Wheaton was leading the Red Men 45-37.
The second half started out very strong for Wheaton as they extended their lead to 19 points at 8:43 in the half. However, Carthage tried to pull off a comeback in the later part of the half. Wheaton was able to keep Carthage from cutting their lead to under 4 points.
Throughout the game, Wheaton scored 11 second chance points, 9 points off of a fast break, 12 points off of turnovers, and 32 total points in the paint.
The Thunder men’s basketball team will return to King Arena this Saturday, Jan. 20 for a game against Illinois Institute of Technology at 7:00pm. The Scarlet Hawks are 11-5 so far this season, and they have three players who have scored more than 200 points so far this season. Wheaton’s Francis has scored 442 points this season, and senior Ricky Samuelson have scored 287 so far.