On Thursday, Feb. 22, Wheaton’s men’s basketball team crashed out of the playoffs in a 95-76 defeat to WPI. This was a discouraging defeat for the team and its fans considering the successful and exciting end of the regular season, as it had a winning streak as it neared its final four games of the regular season.
The streak began on Thursday, Feb. 8, with a closely contested home victory over Springfield College with a score of 76-70. This was followed up two days later with a 76-69 win over Babson College. On Wednesday, Feb. 14, Wheaton blew out the Coast Guard on their home court with a score of 91-73. This past Saturday, the Lyons won at Clark University, securing its place in the playoffs and a strong end to the regular season.
However, when Wheaton faced WPI in the NEWMAC quarterfinals, WPI ultimately snatched the win despite having fallen behind the Lyons after two consecutive defeats.
While Wheaton fell early out of the playoffs, there is still a lot of optimism around the progress the team made toward the end of the season.
Brian Walmsley, the head coach of Wheaton’s men’s basketball team, described the league as “one of the most competitive basketball conferences in the country.” Walmsley added: “[We executed] on offense at a high level and despite our lack of size overall, we have been very solid on the defensive side.”
Among the four end of regular season games, one of the most impressive victories was the 76-70 home win over Springfield College.
Walmsley commented: “Springfield was the top team in the conference all year and has one of the best players in the entire country in Jake Ross, who was the [National Rookie of the Year] last year in all of Division III. The second time around, the team did a tremendous job making it tough for him to get anything easy. We were able to keep the game close and really executed the last 10 minutes of the game to come up with one of the best wins of the season.”
It is also notable that Springfield is a college known for its sports-related degrees, including communication/sports journalism and sports biology, making it a challenging school to play against. Therefore, a win over Springfield shows that the Wheaton men’s basketball team has what it takes to compete with the big fish in NEWMAC.
The Lyons will take what it has learned from this playoff season into its future training and competitions.