The Elmhurst College men’s basketball team’s recent struggles continued with the loss to conference opponent, Wheaton College, 76-65 on Feb. 4.
The Bluejays (10-11, 4-6 CCIW) hung with Wheaton (17-4, 8-2 CCIW) for the opening half, trailing by only five, 43-38, at halftime.
Elmhurst came out strong to start the second half, as they knotted the score at 45-45 early on. But the Thunder responded by scoring 12 of the next 14 points to build a nine-point cushion. Wheaton pushed their lead to as many as 12 points in the second half, before closing the game out with an 11-point victory.
The Bluejays finished the game shooting 46 percent (23-of-50) from the field, and 30 percent (4-of-13) from beyond the arc.
Sophomore forward Nick Sanford led the attack for Elmhurst, scoring 16 points and pulling down seven rebounds in the loss. Freshman guard Brandon Grubl also scored 16 points in his first collegiate start. Junior guard James Robertson added a big contribution off the bench, recording 12 points, four assists, and three steals, while senior forward Jerome Robinson added nine points.
Wheaton finished the game shooting 49.1 percent (26-of-53) from the field and 41.7 percent (5-of-12) from downtown.
Aaron Garriott scored a game-high 22 points for Wheaton on 8-of-11 shooting. Tim McCrary recorded a double-double, scoring 10 points and pulling down a game-high 17 rebounds for the Thunder in the win.
The loss found the Bluejays on a skid as this was their fourth loss of the last five games. At 4-6 in the CCIW, Elmhurst is toward the bottom of the pack in the conference standings and will need to finish strong in their last four games to make the CCIW tournament.
Despite the lack of recent success, there is still plenty of motivation for the Bluejays, something that Robertson echoed after the loss.
“We need to continue to work as hard as we have been the last few games and work towards improving as the season comes to a close,” Robertson said. “It is extremely important that we finish out the season strong. Our goal at the start of the season was to make the CCIW tournament and with four games left, that goal is still attainable.”
The Bluejays will host Millikin University on Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m.