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Mid-Continent Notebook

December 16, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

Mid-Continent Notebook

by Matt Amis

Oral Roberts (6-1)

It was one of those good news/bad news kind of weeks for the Golden Eagles.

After jumping off to its best start in school history, ORU earned a vote in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Top 25 polls. It was the first time since the 1996-97 (a 21-7 NIT-bound campaign) season that the Golden Eagles received votes in either of the major Top 25 polls.

However, everything came crashing back down to earth Saturday, as ORU dropped its first of the year, 71-68, at the hands of Stephen F. Austin.

In Nacogdoches, Texas, the Lumberjacks absorbed an early Golden Eagles outburst to seize control midway through the first half. Drained of momentum, ORU found itself trailing by as many as 12 points early in the second half. However, the Golden Eagles managed to put together a 9-0 run to cut the lead to only one at 43-42 with 13:17 remaining in the contest.

But the ‘Jacks held onto the lead and hit their free throws down the stretch, ruining ORU’s national-recognition party. Tyrone Tiggs once again paced the Golden Eagles three-guard set with 23 points.

Oakland (3-2)

No news is presumably good news for the Golden Grizzlies this week. In the midst of a two week break between contests, Oakland is sitting pretty in second place as the only other Mid-Con team besides ORU over .500. After an 88-69 drubbing of Adrian College, the Golden Grizzlies have until Dec. 19 to prepare for Bowling Green, where head coach Greg Kampe played football and basketball in the 1970’s.

Junior Mike Helms went over the 30-point mark in each of his team’s games last week, extending his streak of consecutive 20-point games to six. Helms made 13-of-21 shots while scoring 31 in a 71-65 loss at Texas A&M, then tallied 34 in an 88-69 win over Adrian. He unofficially ranks third in the nation in scoring at 28.4 per game.

Valparaiso (3-4)

The Crusaders narrowly avoided another disastrous 0-2 week as they took out Samford 87-79 in double-overtime Saturday.

Stalin Ortiz scored on a lay-up to beat the buzzer at the end of the first overtime, helping Valpo eventually defeat the Bulldogs. Leading scorer Raitis Grafs was a big factor as well, scoring a season-high 28 points.

The Crusaders took control of overtime play with clutch free throw shooting as they converted 18 of 22 charity tosses. Seth Colclasure drained all six of his free throws in the final minute.

In the second half, Valpo found itself down by four with 13 minutes to go when senior center Antti Nikkila grabbed dominance of the low post, netting seven of his 12 points. It wasn’t enough to win the game in regulation however, as Samford’s Phillip Ramelli scored 12 of his 20 points in the second half to help the Bulldogs put the game into overtime knotted up at 59.

At the start of overtime, Samford got off to a quick three-point lead with four minutes to play. However, the Crusaders were able to keep the score close enough until Ortiz’s two most important points of the game sent the game into double overtime tied at 67.

In the second overtime, Valpo outscored Samford 8-3 to lead 77-70 with a minute to go. But the three-happy Bulldogs closed the gap to three points with 33 seconds to play, before Valpo was able to pull away once again on its way to its seventh straight overtime victory.

Valpo won the ball control battle, committing just 10 turnovers, and forcing the Bulldogs to turn the ball over 19 times.

Southern Utah (3-4)

The Thunderbirds did little to stand in the way of Northern Arizona’s fourth straight victory Saturday, dropping a 73-56 decision in Cedar City, Utah.

The other Lumberjacks built an 18-point lead early in the second half and led Southern Utah 55-37 after a dunk by Aaron Bond capped a 15-3 run.

However, double technical fouls on Southern Utah’s Al Williams and Northern Arizona’s Adrian Hayes sparked the Thunderbirds to the tune of a 9-0 run.

A 3-pointer by Jordan Mulford brought Southern Utah to within nine with 12 minutes remaining, but a 3-point play by Bond took the wind out of Southern Utah’s sails and the Lumberjacks’ lead remained in double digits for the rest of the game.

Northern Arizona never trailed the Thunderbirds on its way to a 50 percent shooting night from the field, including 10-of-23 from the 3-point-line. Southern Utah, on the other hand, made just 18 of 56 shots.

Indiana Purdue Indianapolis (3-6)

Dec. 18 can’t come any sooner for the Jaguars. Mired in a three-game losing slump and with no contests scheduled this past week, IUPUI will look to get back on track against Cleveland State on Wednesday.

In their last two injury-riddled contests, the Jaguars were outscored by a combined 20-0 at the beginning of each half (13-0 in the 1st, 7-0 in the 2nd) against Middle Tennessee State and San Diego.

The Jaguars will no doubt use their extended break to heal up. Head coach Ron Hunter has used ten different players in the starting line-up this season thanks to a myriad of injuries.

Western Illinois (1-7)

The all-important battle for Bulldog-type mascot supremacy was lost by the Mid-Con Saturday as Drake held off Western Illinois, 72-62.

It was a tale of two halves as Drake shot 57.1 percent in the first half, while Western Illinois hit 54.5 percent in the second half.

However, the road-weary Leathernecks, playing the last game of a seven-game season opening road schedule could only watch helplessly as Drake sealed the victory by making six straight free throws in the waning 38 seconds.

J.D. Summers led Western Illinois with 14 points and transfer Will Lewis, playing in his first game for the Leathernecks, added 13 points.

Chicago State (0-5)

Hoops fans can rest assured. The longest losing streak in the nation is safe and intact.

The Cougars dropped their 23rd straight Saturday (fittingly, collecting 23 turnovers along the way), in a 76-49 thumping by Denver. CSU got off to a putrid start, not hitting a field goal in the first eight minutes of the game, on its way to a 21-4 deficit after 10 minutes. Denver (4-4) led at halftime 32-18.

Sophomore guard Steve Turner led Chicago State with 20 points, but Denver’s Erik Benzel put the Cougars away with 12 of his 17 points coming in the second half.

Derrick Wimmer’s 3-pointer capped a 9-0 run get Chicago State within 38-27 with 16:06 left, but Denver, led by Benzel’s 3-point prowess, outscored the Cougars 25-12 over the last eight minutes.

UMKC (0-6)

Does it get any stranger than this? The nation’s leading scorer Michael Watson (31.4 points per game) scored a game-high 28 points for the Mid-Con’s last place Kangaroos Saturday.

However, the Southeast Missouri State duo of Damarcus Hence (25 points) and Derek Winans (20 points) proved too much as they propelled the Indians to a 66-58 victory. Winans hit a pair of 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions in the last 1:14 of the first half to give SEMO (4-4) a 32-23 lead. However, Watson’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer pulled the Kangaroos to within six at the break.

Carlton Aaron started a back-and-forth second half, when he made a layup on UMKC’s first possession but the Indians responded with an 8-1 run to take their biggest lead of the game at 40-29. UMKC answered right back with a 12-2 run of their own to get within 42-41 with 13:28 to play. Watson hit a 3-pointer and four free throws in the run before Tom Curtis hit a pair from the charity stripe to make it a one-point game.

Unfortunately for Watson and the Kangaroos, they never took the lead as SEMO scored the next seven points and led 49-41 after a jumper from Hence with 9:44 left. UMKC got within 63-58 on an Aaron putback with 26 seconds left, but the Indians iced the game by making 6-of-8 free throws in the final 63 seconds.


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