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Wheaton men’s basketball advances behind better ‘D’

Updated: April 15, 2014 6:12AM

Whatever worries Wheaton men’s basketball coach Mike Schauer has had about his defense have been eased in the last two weeks.

The Thunder (21-8) opened strong in the NCAA Division III tournament, beating host Rose-Hulman (22-6) 64-47 on Friday and Penn State-Behrend (24-5) 68-40 in Holland, Mich. That came a week after Wheaton topped Augustana 68-55 in the semifinal and Illinois Wesleyan 87-66 in the final of the CCIW tournament in Bloomington, Ill.

“We really played well two weekends in a row,” said Schauer, whose team goes back to Bloomington on Friday to play Dickinson in a final 16 game. “The biggest difference is at the end of the regular season we just weren’t defending. Now for four straight games we’ve played at a really high level defensively.”

Guards Tyler Peters and Brayden Teuscher scored in double figures in both games. Peters had 21 and Teuscher 14 against Rose-Hulman; each had 13 against Penn State-Behrend.

Dickinson (23-6) got to the final 16 with a 67-64 victory over No. 8 Wooster, a team that beat Wheaton back in November. The winner will take on No. 6 Illinois Wesleyan (23-4) or No. 24 Calvin (24-5) for a trip to the Final Four in Salem, Va.

“They’re very big, long and athletic,” Schauer said of Wooster. “They cause matchup problems for us defensively, and we’re going to have to move the ball and make good plays offensively to get clean looks at the basket.”

St. Xavier rolls

In NAIA Division II, all 32 tournament teams go to Point Lookout, Mo., for a six-day event. No. 7 St. Xavier (30-4) rolled to an 87-71 triumph over Cincinnati Christian (24-8) in a Wednesday morning opener. Junior guard Jack Krieger scored 22 for the Cougars.

Robert Morris (24-9) won its opener on Thursday in a 69-66 victory over St. Francis of Indiana (21-11).

In the women’s tournament in Sioux City, Iowa, Olivet Nazarene (22-10) topped Concordia of Nebraska 91-86 and Purdue-Calumet (25-6) beat Oregon Tech in 83-75 in Wednesday openers. On Thursday, seasons ended for Roosevelt (21-11) and St. Xavier (27-6), with Jamestown of North Dakota topping Roosevelt 80-59 and College of the Ozarks ousting St. Xavier 68-43.

North Central No. 5

Ranked fifth in the national computer rankings, North Central will take 11 athletes to the NCAA Division III men’s track and field finals Friday and Saturday in Lincoln, Neb. For the first time, the Cardinals have five qualifiers in one event, the 5,000 meters. John Crain ranks fifth in the nation in 14:30.63 despite having run the event only once this season.

The women’s meet also is in Lincoln this weekend, and No. 11 North Central has six qualifiers.

On the mat

Elmhurst, North Central and Wheaton each have two qualifiers and Chicago one for the NCAA Division III wrestling championships Friday and Saturday at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. North Central’s Nicolas Santos (125 points) and Josh Tardy (157), Elmhurst’s Ryan Prater (149) and Danny Balderas (197), Wheaton’s Mark Savenok (157) and Stephen Aiello (165) and Chicago’s Charles Banaszak (141) all qualified.

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