BLOOMINGTON — Establishing himself as a dominant rebounder in the early going, senior forward Jaylen Beasley jumped on the increasingly crowded Illinois Wesleyan scoring bandwagon Saturday at Shirk Center.
Beasley’s 13 points and 13 rebounds were anything but bad luck for the Titans, who reached 90 points for the third consecutive game in a 94-82 victory over Calvin in the Illinois-Michigan Challenge.
“I’m just trying every shot offensively or defensively to crash the glass and get a rebound for us,” said Beasley, who set a career rebounding high for the second straight game. “And I started shooting the ball a little better today."
IWU coach Ron Rose liked what he saw from the Bloomington High School graduate early in preseason practice.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with Jaylen. He brought in this different attitude, more aggressive, more assertive,” Rose said. “He’s always been able to rebound, but now he’s rebounding in a crowd and rebounding with some physicality. He’s getting the ball well above the rim.”
After a school-record 20 3-pointers in a win over Alma on Friday, the Titans tossed in 15 more while improving to 3-0.
“I give our guys credit. I thought we played pretty hard,” Calvin coach Kevin Vande Streek said. “But the explosiveness of Wesleyan was really something to behold. We lost shooters a couple times and they made us pay.”
IWU used a 17-2 first-half spurt to assume a 38-24 advantage. The Titans held a 45-29 lead before the Knights (0-2) scored the final six points of the first half and the second half’s initial nine points to close within one.
Brady Rose’s three-point play off a fast-break layup allowed Wesleyan to exhale a bit.
IWU non-starters then reeled off the Titans’ next 17 points with Zach Knobloch hitting two 3-pointers, Jason Gregoire scoring five, Tyler Burdine four and Grant Wolfe two as IWU pulled ahead, 65-50.
“Our depth is really a strength of ours. We knew that,” said Ron Rose. “Tyler had two huge buckets for us. He’s that hustle guy. Jason is settling in, and Grant made some spectacular plays, especially on the defensive end.”
The Titans led 81-60 after Nick Coleman’s fifth 3-pointer. Coleman scored 12 first-half points and finished with a career-high 18.
“I woke up on the right side of the bed today. I felt great,” Coleman said. “I got in the gym and got some shots up early and felt real good.”
Coleman had a combined 11 points in Wesleyan’s first two games.
“It’s good to see Nick get untracked,” said Coach Rose. “When Nick just lets the game come to him, it’s always worked pretty well.”
Brady Rose matched Coleman with 18 points, Knobloch added 14 and Gregoire a career-high 10.
IWU junior Colin Bonnett left the game at the 16:30 mark of the second half after turning an ankle and did not return.
Calvin shot 53 percent from the field in the second half and 48 percent overall. Austin Bykerk and Derrick DeVries scored 15 points each to pace five Knights in double figures.