WHEATON, Ill. – The Carthage College Red Men saw first half struggle prove to be the difference in their first game of the 2019 New Year, falling to the Thunder of Wheaton College, 77-57.

The loss drops the Red Men to 6-7 on the year and to a costly 1-3 in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, while Wheaton moves to 9-4 and 2-2 in the league.

“Today we got beat up and down the court in all aspects of the game,” said head coach Bosko Djurickovic. “We did not play well today and must get back to the drawing board before returning to action on Saturday against Millikin.”

After an opening three-pointer in the first possession of the game by Mike Canady the Red Men trailed for the final 17:14 of the half as the Red Men could not keep up with the hot shooting Thunder. Carthage went 10-35 from the field for 28.6% and 5-15 from three for 33.3%, while Wheaton was 18-35 from the field for 51.4% and 10-18 from three for 55.6%, on their way to a commanding 19-point halftime lead, 49-30. The Red Men also struggled on the boards as the Thunder earned a plus-ten advantage in rebounding, 27-17.

Jacob Polglase provided a spark off the bench for the Red Men, as the junior guard went 3-6 from three for nine points to lead Carthage in the half.

The Carthage defense tightened things up in the second half, limiting Wheaton to 26.5% from the field and 30.8% from three over the final 20 minutes, but Wheaton was able to push the lead to as many as 25 points late, 77-52, before earning the 20-point win.

For the game the Red Men were 19-67 from the field and 8-26 from three, while the Thunder finished 27-69 and 14-31 from deep.

Kienan Baltimore led the Red Men with 19 points in the loss, including 15 in the second half. Sean Johnson was the only other Red Men in double-figures with eleven points. Baltimore and Johnson each finished with double-doubles in the loss, each collecting eleven rebounds to lead the team.

Bosko said, “I thought we did a solid job on Aston Francis tonight but didn’t do a good enough job on the other players. Wheaton does an outstanding job surrounding Francis with players who know their roles. That’s something we need to do a better job of.”

Francis, the nation’s leading scorer, finished with 31 points, but limited in the second half to just 3-15 shooting.

The Red Men will return to action at home for the first-time in nearly a month on Saturday, when Carthage hosts the Millikin University Big Blue at Tarble Arena. The Red Men will play game two of the men’s and women’s doubleheader, with the Lady Reds opening the action at 5:00 p.m.

“Back to work tomorrow! Two important days of preparation needed for a big and physical Millikin team.”