Bears upset by IWU in NCAA tournament

| Sports Editor

Senior Aaron Thompson scored 20 points, but the top ranked Bears fell to Illinois Wesleyan 75-70 in the second round of the Division III NCAA Tournament. (Cedric Xia | Student Life)

The No. 1 Washington University men’s basketball team could not come back from a seven-point deficit with 3:11 left in the second half, losing 75-70 to Illinois Wesleyan University on Saturday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Senior Aaron Thompson recorded 20 points in the game, but was limited in the game with foul trouble. Junior Spencer Gay had 14 points and 13 rebounds, but the Titans’ Sean Johnson scored 24 points.

A 7-0 run gave the Titans a 17-10 lead with 12:30 left in the first half. Turnovers and missed shots plagued the Bears, shooting just from field in the period.

Thompson and graduate student Sean Wallis were forced to sit through most of the first half due to foul trouble. The two combined for just four points and 18 minutes in the period.

With the Bears’ two leading scorers out of the game, the Titans easily maintained their lead.

A layup with 1:18 left in the first half gave the away team an eight-point lead, its largest of the half, but the Red and Green managed to cut it to three by halftime.

Thompson hit a three-pointer, his first of the night, only six seconds into the second period to tie the game. Gay gave the Bears the lead on the following possession, but it would be their only lead for the rest of the game.

Sophomore Jordan Zimmer’s layup gave Illinois Wesleyan a 48-39 advantage with 14:18 left in the game. Aaron Thompson got the Red and Green to within just one point at the 1:46 mark, but the Bears could not complete the comeback.

Illinois Wesleyan is now 4-0 all-time against Washington University in NCAA tournament play.

The victory that led to the matchup with Illinois Wesleyan was a dogfight in itself.

Wallis’s 21 points and 13 assists pushed the Bears past Westminster College in the opening round of the tournament on Friday night, while Richter and Thompson both scored 13 points.

Wash. U. took a 10-9 lead on senior Zach Kelly’s free throws with 14:33 left in the first half, but back-to-back threes gave the Blue Jays a five-point lead. Westminster hit seven three-pointers in the first half alone, four coming from freshman Skylar Tolston.

Junior Caleb Knepper’s long-range shot at 7:49 gave the Bears a lead that lasted for the rest of the half. The Red and Green took a 40-34 advantage into the break.

While Thompson and Gay suffered from foul trouble in the second half, Westminster’s Stanley Crawford took over. Crawford scored 18 points in the second half, keeping his team in the game.

The Blue Jays connected on three straight three-point plays, taking a two-point lead with 13:39 left in the game.

Richter scored seven of the Bears’ nine next points, putting the home team ahead by seven, a lead that would not be surrendered.

Smith’s three-pointer with 1:39 left sealed the win.