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Mid-Continent Notebook

February 19, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Mid-Continent Notebook

by Matt Amis

While three feet of snow cover the eastern seaboard, things are certainly heating up in the Mid-Contintent Conference. Valpo is still comfortable at the top, but Oakland and IUPUI are in a dogfight for second.

Sixth straight for Oakland

Oakland got there by upending UMKC 100-79 behind Mike Helms, the nations’ leading scorer, who netted 34 points to lead the Golden Grizzlies (14-9, 7-3 Mid-Con) to its sixth straight victory with a win over UMKC (6-18, 5-6 Mid-Con).

Rawle Marshall finished with 22 points and a career-high seven assists in the victory, while Cortney Scott added his second straight double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds.

The country’s fourth leading scorer, Michael Watson, netted a paltry 15 for the Kangaroos to go along with Carlton Aaron, Javon Clark and James Williams who also scored 15. The Golden Grizzlies shot 57 percent from the floor, and outrebounded UMKC 41-34.

IUPUI stays in second

IUPUI pulled even with Oakland when it knocked off Oral Roberts Saturday 76-65. IUPUI (14-12, 7-3 Mid-Con) opened up a 14-point first half lead and held on down the stretch. The Jaguars outrebounded Oral Roberts 37-33 in the win and forced 17 Golden Eagle turnovers.

Josh Murray matched his career-high with 25 points, 12 rebounds and four steals in the win. Reggie Borges paced the Golden Eagles with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Josh Atkinson added 12.

IUPUI’s seven conference wins mark the highest total the Jaguars have posted in their short Mid-Con history.

Two-game lead for Valpo

First-place Valparaiso managed to slip by Southern Utah 69-61 to keep a comfortable lead at the top of the standings. In fact, the Crusaders’ recent play has caught the attention of ESPN, who included them in their weekly “Cinderella Watch.”

According to the experts, “The Crusaders were once on this Watch, but the public didn’t agree. Maybe this will help Valpo’s case: The Crusaders have won nine of 10 games since losing three in a row to Purdue, Missouri and Notre Dame. At 8-1 in the Mid-Con, Valpo has once again risen to the top and certainly looks Cinderella worthy come March.”

One reason for this is likely the Crusader defense, which has been on lock-down recently. Valparaiso limited Southern Utah to 36 percent shooting from the floor Saturday and outrebounded the Thunderbirds 52-29.

Raitis Grafs scored 19 points and Stalin Ortiz added 18, while Joaquim Gomes pulled down 16 rebounds in the victory. David Palmer was the only Southern Utah player in double figures with 11. Valparaiso, who maintains its top place in the Mid-Con standings, shot 40 percent from the field in the win – it’s fourth straight.

WIU snaps losing streak

In the battle of the dregs, Western Illinois (7-15, 3-7 Mid-Con) snapped a six-game losing streak coming back from 75-73 deficit in the final 1:50 to drop Chicago State (3-22, 0-11 Mid-Con), Saturday at the Dickens Center.

Andre Charles’ three-point play with 50 seconds remaining gave the Leathernecks the lead for good at 71-70.

Western Illinois posted five players in double figures led by Will Lewis with 17 points. The Cougars were led by Kelvin Smallwood with a game-high 19 points. The loss was the 15th straight for Chicago State.


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