Wheaton combined a fast-break offense with a relentless full-court press defense to defeat Paint Branch, 71-60, in a Montgomery Division II basketball game last night at Wheaton.

The Knights (14-6, 9-3 in league play) jumped to a quick 18-6 first-quarter lead behind the play of seniors Shawn Williams (season-high 31 points) and Curtis Hill (13 points).

In the second quarter, Wheaton's full-court press continued to confuse Paint Branch (11-6, 9-3) as the relentless defense forced five turnovers in the first three minutes of the second quarter.

That allowed the Knights to extend their lead to 21-9 with 5:30 remaining in the half.

"We just put that press in this week for Paint Branch," said Wheaton Coach Tom Crowell.

"We figured that we would just stay with it as long as it worked. It helped us keep them off guard until almost halftime."

Trailing, 28-11, with 3:54 to play in the half, Paint Branch went on a 14-7 run that included a Keith Johnston 12-foot jumper that narrowed the margin to 33-25 at halftime.

The Panthers made their first three field-goal attempts of the second half and began rebounding better, scoring on second and third shots.

By the end of the third period, Paint Branch trailed, 47-42.

With 6:20 to play in the game, Johnston (18 points) made a three-point goal and Percy Moore a layup to bring the Panthers to within 51-50, but they got no closer.

Six turnovers and eight fouls in the final period all but extinguished any Paint Branch hopes.

After two baskets by Williams, Paint Branch commited five turnovers that resulted in Wheaton baskets and increased the deficit to 62-53 with about two minutes remaining.