WAUKESHA, Wis. — The Illinois Wesleyan basketball team stung hot-shooting Carroll with the first 11 points of the second half en route to an 82-70 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin victory on Saturday at Van Male Fieldhouse.
No. 24-ranked IWU won its sixth straight game and hiked its record to 14-3 overall and 7-1 at the halfway mark of the CCIW schedule.
“It was a hard-fought win,” Wesleyan coach Ron Rose said. “That group really competes at a high level. You have to play well.”
Brady Rose topped all scorers with 27 points, while Jason Gregoire and Alex O’Neill provided key production down the stretch for the Titans.
The Pioneers (5-12, 1-7) led 34-30 in the first half before Wesleyan pulled into a 37-37 tie entering halftime. Carrroll connected on 6 of 8 3-point tries in the opening half.
“I didn’t think our defense was awful, but it did let down a few times,” said Ron Rose. “One of the keys was the start of the second half when we were able to build a lead. Certainly playing from ahead is always a better situation.”
IWU began the second half authoritatively with three Colin Bonnett free throws, an O’Neill layup, a Rose three-point play and a Bonnett 3-pointer for a 48-37 advantage.
“The first half we were a little hesitant in terms of our decision making,” Coach Rose said. “The second half we made quicker decisions in terms of how we wanted to attack. It seemed like every time they cut it to four or five, the offense really responded.”
The Titans’ lead ballooned as high as 13 at 52-39. Carroll rallied within five twice, on a Nick Penny 3-pointer with 8:41 to play and 70-65 on a Tanner Zaeske trey at the 4:52 mark.
Five straight O’Neill points reinforced the IWU lead at 75-67. Gregoire then drilled a pair of threes in the final two minutes to seal the victory.
“Alex was really strong down the stretch,” said Ron Rose. “Jason hit some really big shots.”
Rose knocked down 11 of 16 shots as the Titans finished at a season-high 54.7 percent from the floor. Gregoire recorded career highs of 14 points and eight rebounds. Zach Knobloch added 13 points and O’Neill 11.
IWU countered Carroll’s 9 of 17 3-point shooting with 10 of 23 marksmanship from beyond the arc. It was the 10th time this season and the fourth game in a row the Titans have hit at least 10 3-pointers.
Zaeske paced the Pioneers with 15 points and Tyler Ingebrightsen added 12. Joel Heesch contributed 10 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.