March 1 2018
With a loss to Augustana University in the semifinal of the CCIW tournament, the Wheaton men’s basketball team’s season ended.
Throughout the entire first half, the game was within a few points. Augustana took the early lead but only led by, at most, four points, and Wheaton was able to gain a lead on Augie with less than six minutes left in the first half. Junior Aston Francis sunk a three-pointer with 6:55 left in the half to put Wheaton within a point of Augustana. After an Augie turnover and foul, junior Luke Peters made a free throw to tie the game.
Soon after, Francis stole the ball and sunk a layup after a fastbreak, putting Wheaton up by two points. At this point in the game, Wheaton was staying right with the top-ranked Vikings team.
A combination of an untimely offensive dryspell and Augustana’s strong offensive start helped the Vikings separate themselves from Wheaton by 14 points with ten minutes left. Then Wheaton turned their game around and scored nine unanswered points, six of which were free throws. Immediately after Augustana scored two points to extend the lead back to seven, Wheaton answered with seven points to tie the game.
During the final minutes of the game, Wheaton simply could not get shots to fall through the net when they needed points. Augustana was able to sink their free throws and few important layups to extend their lead to eight points. Unfortunately, this meant that Wheaton lost to Augustana with a final score of 72-64 and ended up being the only CCIW team to qualify for the CCIW tournament but not nationals.
Francis was named a finalist for the Jostens Trophy on Tuesday, Feb. 27. The honor was created by the Rotary Club of Salem and honors the most outstanding players in NCAA Division III men’s and women’s basketball. The three criteria which determine the finalists and the winner are: basketball ability, academic prowess and community service.
Francis was already honored as the 2018 CCIW “Fred Young Most Outstanding Player,” has a 27.4 points per game average this season (a Wheaton single-season record), has scored the fourth most total points in DIII men’s basketball (712) and leads DIII men’s basketball in total three-pointers (121, also a school record) and three-pointers per game (4.65). Since the award’s conception, Wheaton has had more finalists for the Jostens Trophy than any other school (10).