Wheaton, Ill. – The Wheaton Thunder men's basketball team extended its season-opening win streak to four games with an 86-71 victory at home on Tuesday evening against Calvin College. Wheaton improves to 4-0 overall, while the Knights fall to 1-3.
Senior Aston Francis led the Thunder with 30 points and four assists. Junior Anajuwon Spencer scored 11 points with eight rebounds and three blocked shots. Nyameye Adom led a strong effort from the Wheaton bench with nine points. The Thunder bench scored 32 points with 15 rebounds.
Luke Peters scored seven points, with five rebounds and three assists. Jack Bennett, Spencer Peterson and Gavin Hawkins each scored six points off the Wheaton bench.
Calvin came out strong early with a 10-4 lead over the Thunder, just four minutes into the game. The Knights led 14-7 with 11 minutes remaining in the first half when the Thunder put together a 7-2 run to trim the guests' lead to 16-14 with 9:45 left before halftime. Calvin's Derrick DeVries made a basket to give the guests a 29-26 lead with 3:27 left in the first half. Wheaton responded with seven-consecutive points to give the Thunder a 33-29 lead with 1:40 remaining before halftime. Wheaton led the Knights 35-34 at the halftime intermission.
The Knights opened the second half with an 11-3 run to give Calvin a seven-point lead at 45-38 with 16:30 remaining in regulation. Spencer drained a three-pointer with 16:00 left in the game to spark a 12-4 run for the Thunder that was capped off by a layup and three-pointer by freshman Tyson Cruickhank. Cruickshank's trifecta with 12:30 left in the game gave Wheaton a 50-49 lead.
Wheaton held a one-point lead at 58-57 with 8:35 remaining in the game when a layup by Jack Bennett sparked a 14-6 Thunder run to give Wheaton a 72-63 lead with 5:00 left in contest. The Wheaton run was highlighted by back-to-back three-pointers by Hawkins. Wheaton remained in control in the final five minutes, as the 15-point advantage in the 86-71 final score was the largest lead of the game for either team. Wheaton rebounded from a 30.3% (10-of-33) shooting effort in the first half to post a strong 64.3% (18-of-28) field goal percentage in the second half.
The Thunder shot 45.9% (28-of-61) from the floor in the game, including 34.8% (8-of-23) from three-point range. Calvin posted a 40.4% (23-of-57) field goal percentage, including 18.8% (3-of-16) behind the three-point arc. Wheaton shot a season-high 88% (22-of-25) at the free throw line and the Knights shot 78.6% (22-of-28) at the charity stripe. Calvin out-rebounded the Thunder 38-37, including a 13-11 edge on the offensive glass.
Wheaton travels to LeTourneau University Saturday for a 7:00 p.m. tipoff in Longview, Texas.