By Eric Stock
BLOOMINGTON – Aston Francis scored 36 points with signature array of highlight reel three-point shots as Wheaton outscored No, 17 Illinois Wesleyan, 107-95, in a Shirk Center game that further complicates an already crowded College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin race.
After Illinois Wesleyan pulled to within 36-35 with 4:17 to play in the fist half, the Thunder closed out the half on a 16-8 run, capped by Francis’ patent fadeaway three from the corner in the closing seconds to give the Thunder a 52-43 lead at the break.
PODCAST: Listen to IWU coach Ron Rose’s postgame interview on WJBC.
Wheaton (15-6, 8-4 in the CCIW) stormed out the gate in the second half, scoring 12 consecutive points, eventually opening a 81-53 lead with 11:58 to go. IWU (16-5, 9-3 in the CCIW) pulled to within 98-89 on a Miles Curry baseline basket with 1:49 left, but the Thunder made its final 10 free throws down the stretch to seal the win
Brady Rose led the Titans with 27 points. Curry finished with a team-high eight rebounds. Alex O’Neill added 14 points and six boards.
IWU maintains a half-game lead over North Central (9-4) following the Cardinals loss to No. 14 Augustana (9-4), while Wheaton stands along in fourth place, one game ahead of Carthage following the Redmen’s loss to Carroll.
The Titans host Carroll on Saturday.
Eric Stock can be reached at email@example.com.