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Mid-Continent Notebook

January 20, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Mid-Continent Conference Notebook

by Matt Amis

Don’t look now, but Valpo is starting to round into form. And the matter in which the Crusaders have been winning may show that Oral Roberts does have a reason to be nervous.

Valparaiso extended its home court win streak to 19 games and retained its perfect conference mark on Saturday with a cakewalk 80-48 win over visiting Chicago State.

The Crusaders (8-7, 3-0 Mid-Con) led by just three (27-24) at the break, but outscored the Cougars (3-14, 0-4 Mid-Con) by a 53-24 margin in the second half. Valpo shot a sizzling 68 percent from the field, including an 8-of-13 effort from long range.

Stalin Ortiz tied a career high with 25 points for the Crusaders, including 16 in the second half, while Joaquim Gomes scored nine of his 11 points in the second stanza. Chicago State was led by Rubeen Perry’s 17 points.

IUPUI bounces back

IUPUI (8-10, 2-1 Mid-Con) rebounded from its first Mid-Con loss of the year at Oral Roberts on Thursday to edge the hard-luck Kangaroos of UMKC (2-14, 1-3 Mid-Con) on the road with 74-65 win.

UMKC built an early 12-point lead by scoring on 10 of its first 12 possessions of the game, but the Jaguars clawed back into the game (pun intended) and took a 41-36 lead at the half. After the break, IUPUI seemingly took control of the game by scoring eight straight points to start the second half, but a 17-5 run by UMKC brought the Kangaroos to within a point at 54-53.

Down a bucket (57-55), UMKC failed to score for nearly nine minutes while IUPUI scored 12 unanswered points to pull away.

Josh Mullins scored all 15 of his points in the first half for IUPUI, while Chris Sanders scored all 14 of his in the second half. Brandon Cole buried four first-half treys for IUPUI as part of IUPUI’s 12 three-pointers.

UMKC collected 12 long-range shots of its own but was outscored by a 16-3 margin at the free throw line. Michael Watson scored 19 points to lead the Kangaroos, while Marc Stricker (16) and Carlton Aaron (13) each scored in double figures.

ORU balance dooms Oakland

Oral Roberts, which is now in the business of keeping pace with Valpo, pushed its win streak to three games with an 88-75 triumph over visiting Oakland.

The Golden Eagles (12-5, 3-1 Mid-Con) used a balanced scoring attack to turn away the Golden Grizzlies (7-8, 1-2 Mid-Con).

As if things weren’t already “golden” enough in the building, ORU pushed its home win streak to 12 games dating back to last year with their eighth straight triumph this season at the Mabee Center. Cameron Tragardh scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half for the Eagles, who led 45-35 at the break. Jonathan Bluitt also provided some sparks from the Eagles bench with a career-high 18 points, which included 6-of-8 shooting from the floor.

Reggie Borges had 16 points and nine boards for Oral Roberts, while Josh Atkinson had 12 points, including three straight treys that helped seal the win. Oral Roberts’ Kendrick Moore had six points, eight rebounds and five blocks, and became the school’s career leader in blocked shots despite playing in just his second season with the Golden Eagles.

Oakland’s Mike Helms, the nation’s leading scorer, scored a game-high 30 points, his seventh 30-point game of the season, while teammate Cortney Scott posted his first double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Leathernecks hang tough

Keeping pace this weekend was Western Illinois, which won its second in a row with a 74-69 triumph over Southern Utah.

Western Illinois (5-9, 2-1 Mid-Con) led by a slim 32-29 margin at the break over the visiting Thunderbirds (7-9, 2-2 Mid-Con) but extended that lead to as many as 14 (66-52) with less than five minutes to play.

However, the tenacious Thunderbirds refused to go away, using a 17-4 run to cut the Leatherneck advantage to just one point with 37 seconds left.

Nick Rodsater converted a pair of free throws to push Western Illinois’ advantage to three points, and after a pair of Southern Utah long-range misses, Ray Harris sealed up the win with a pair of freebies.

Shawn Mason helped the Leathernecks to their second straight win overall and their fourth in a row at home with 23 points. J.D. Summers added 14 points and Will Lewis 12 for Western Illinois, who managed to turn 20 Southern Utah turnovers into 27 points.

The visiting Thunderbirds were led by Jay Collins’ 20 points and eight assists, while Donnie Jackson contributed 13.


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