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Big Sky Notebook

December 27, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

Big Sky Notebook

by Nicholas Lozito

Welcome to the Lozito Psychic Hotline

First and foremost, I would like to declare myself a college basketball guru. I am now three-for-three in predicting the winner of the Game of the Week in my Big Sky Notebooks. The past two weeks I have correctly picked the score differential, and the first week I was only off by two points. But even more incredibly, I correctly predicted Gonzaga to beat Eastern Washington, 67-64, this past week. And what do you know, they won by that exact score.

I knew Gonzaga, a team on the cusp of being ranked in the Hoopville Top-25 Poll, would be up to a tough task at home versus the Eagles (7-3). I knew it would come down to sheer grit, as many in-state battles do. But in the end, home court advantage reigned supreme. Gonzaga proved to have a much deeper team as only two Eastern players scored over six points – Alvin Snow with 22, and Chris Hester with nineteen. Snow also finished with five rebounds, five assists and three steals. The ‘Zags proved to be the more physical team, out-rebounding the Eagles 41-27. Earlier in the week, Eastern Washington defeated Boise State, 65-59.

Pilots sail circles around Vikings’ ship

It’s pretty rare that non-conference opponents play each other twice. But when you have an intra-city rivalry like the one that exists between Portland State and Portland, it’s hard to resist temptation. Portland (4-6) beat Portland State (2-7) for the second time this season, 59-50, claiming city bragging rights. For the Vikings, several trends continued. They lost, and point guard Jeb Ivey played all 40 minutes, as he has done in eight of nine games. Ivey led the team with 15 points in the loss.

Weber takes advantage of weak schedule

Sacramento State’s women’s basketball team, who just snapped their 44-game losing streak, might be able to play with some of the teams Weber state has faced this preseason. The Wildcats (8-3), just coming off wins over Boise State and Utah State, have yet to face a team from a major conference. Here is the list of Wildcat opponents: Santa Barbara, Ball State, Alaska-Fairbanks, Montana Tech, Nevada, North Texas, Morris Brown, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Portland, Utah State and Boise State.

The Wildcats have recently seen the return of junior forward Slobodan Ocokoljic, who missed the team’s first nine games for breaking NCAA rules. Ocokoljic, an Ohio State transfer, has averaged 7.5 points in his first two games. His return should carry more weight in upcoming weeks, as the wildcats will face BYU and Utah.

Life without Jason

Montana State (5-4) may have beaten Idaho this week, 74-68, but the talk around Bozeman is all about point guard Jason Erickson. Erickson, last season’s Big Sky Player of the Year, broke his wrist in a game against Dickinson State last week, and is expected out for up to four weeks. Shooting guard Pete Conway softened the loss of Erickson with 27 points. Reserve point guard Frank Brown scored eight points with four assists.

Gazing the Sky

Idaho State (5-5) continued their improved play this week with an 86-68 win over Eastern Oregon. The Bengals have now won four-straight games. Freshman shooting guard David Shroeder scored 26 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Bengals, while JuCo transfer Marquise Poole scored nine points and dished out six assists. Junior forward Scott Henry recorded his fifth double-double with 13 points and ten boards.

Northern Arizona (7-2) continued their solid play with a 92-76 win over Tennessee-Martin. Aaron Bond led the Lumberjacks with 37 points, while Ryan McDade had sixteen points and eleven rebounds. Coming into the week, the Lumberjacks led the Big Sky in scoring offense with 76.9 points per game.

A week after knocking off No. 22-ranked Stanford University with a 3-pointer at the buzzer, Montana (5-7) shooting guard David Bell scored 16 points to lead the Grizzlies to a 75-68 victory over Loyola Marymount. JuCo transfer Steve Horne scored ten points and pulled down seven boards.

After going on a three-game winning streak, Sacramento State (4-5) lost their second-straight game this week against Cal State-Fullerton, 62-54. Fullerton was without second-leading scorer and leading rebounder Pape Sow, and after backup center Babacar Camara went down early in the first half, the Titans were down to six scholarship players. Still, the Hornets fell to the undermanned Titans.

Hornet head coach Jerome Jenkins will now look to senior Derek Lambeth to get his team back on track over the next few weeks.

Game of the Week

On New Year’s Eve, Eastern Washington will head to the Midwest to take on the University of Nebraska. This will be one of the few chances the Big Sky gets to show how they can perform against power-conference teams, other than those in the Pac-10. Alvin Snow and Chris Hester have been steady forces so far for the Eagles, but the key is whether shooting guard Brandon Merritt and forward Marc Axton will step up. Prediction: Eastern Washington 73, Nebraska 67.

Player of the Week

Northern Arizona forward Aaron Bond scored 37 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the Lumberjacks 92-76 win over Tennessee-Martin.


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