WHEATON — Jaylen Beasley drilled two go-ahead 3-pointers in the final 1:28, including the game winner with three seconds to play, to lift the Illinois Wesleyan basketball team to a back and forth 82-79 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin victory over Wheaton on Wednesday at King Arena.
“Jaylen really stepped up. Those are huge shots,” IWU coach Ron Rose said. “Everybody on the team wanted Jaylen to shoot them, Jaylen wanted to shoot them and he knocked them down.”
IWU (6-1, 1-1 in the CCIW) enjoyed a 52-41 lead early in the second half, but the Thunder (5-2, 1-1) fought back to take a 59-58 edge.
Wesleyan had picked up two technicals during that Wheaton streak with Aston Francis converting all four free throws.
Dueling 3-pointers by the Titans’ Brady Rose and Wheaton’s Ricky Samuelson put the score at 76-74 Thunder before Beasley connected from beyond the arc.
“I was disappointed with our intensity Saturday,” Coach Rose said of a 74-72 loss to Carthage at Shirk Center. “We made a 180 degree turn tonight. The guys competed for 40 minutes. We were locked in the entire game.”
Francis hit one free throw and Brady Rose two from the foul line as IWU held a 79-77 lead. Francis was then fouled while attempting a 3-pointer with 37 seconds left but could sink only two for a tie.
Beasley then connected from just right of the key and two steps beyond the 3-point arc for the winning shot.
Francis scored 24 of his 30 points in the second half.
“I have one of the 20 (or) 10 best players in the country,” Wheaton coach Mike Schauer said of Francis on his postgame show. “But until he learns to compete defensively with the same tenacity as he does at the offensive end, we’re going to be a team that just wins some games. I say that publicly because I know how competitive Aston is.”
Brady Rose scored 16 of his team-high 26 points after halftime for IWU. Beasley added 13 points, and Alex O’Neill 11 points and nine rebounds.
Wesleyan amassed a 50-32 rebounding advantage as Beasley grabbed eight boards and Danny Baker and Nick Coleman seven each. The Thunder stayed close by hitting seven of their 11 3-pointers in the second half.
The Titans fought back from an 8-3 deficit for a 10-10 tie on three Brady Rose free throws. IWU held a 30-22 first-half margin before taking a 39-34 edge into halftime.