Wheaton (Ill.) gets past Edgewood
Thunder hit 15 of 19 from field in second half to pull away
RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- Wheaton (Ill.) shot nearly 80 percent in second half en route to a 73-62 victory against Edgewood on Saturday in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The No. 24-ranked Thunder advance to the NCAA round of 16 for the third time in the last five years as they rolled past Edgewood. Tim McCrary led the charge for the Thunder finishing with 19 points, nine rebounds, four assists, along with a pair of blocks and steals.
McCrary, the CCIW Player of the Year, hit each of his first five shots giving Wheaton an early 23-15 advantage. The Eagles rallied back, starting with the NAC’s all-time-leading scorer Ben Wisniewski making consecutive layups in traffic cutting the lead to two points. Wisniewski led Wheaton with 16 points in his final game in an Eagle uniform.
Edgewood’s run continued, scoring 13 unanswered points, holding Wheaton scoreless for nearly eight minutes while the Thunder missed nine consecutive shots.
The cold streak for Wheaton would end there.
Tyler Peters hit a 3 with 1:12 to play which put an end to the Thunder scoring drought and sparked the offense as they hit 16 of their next 18 shots, carrying Wheaton to a 62-45 lead. Wheaton finished with a season-high 63.6-percent from the field including 78.9 percent in the second half on 15 of 19 shooting.
McCrary continued to shoot well, despite being double and tripled team most of the night, scoring in double-digits for the 40th consecutive game. Three other Thunder starters finished in double-figures including Jeremy Pflederer hitting four 3-pointers for 14 points, Aaron Garriott with 12 points and seven rebounds, and Peters with 13.
The Eagles made one last push in the final minutes with a high pressure defense creating four turnovers as they went on a 12-0 run, cutting the lead to four. Kent Faroute finished with 15 points and six boards for the Eagles, while Derek Nkemnji added 10 points and five assists.
Down the stretch, the Thunder escaped the Eagles press and hit their free throws, securing a spot in the NCAA tournament field of 16. Edgewood ended its historic season with a record of 23-7 and the first NAC member school to win an NCAA tournament game.