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Horizon League Notebook

December 4, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Horizon League Notebook

by Nick Dettmann

The hot-spot game was thought to be in Milwaukee as it was a re-match between Southern Illinois and the UW-Milwaukee Panthers after the classic in Carbondale last year.

Instead, the classic happened in one of the unlikely places, Cleveland. The Cleveland State Vikings played hosts to the then eighth-ranked North Carolina in front of 11,534 people, the second largest crowd in school history, from the CSU Convocation Center. And what a classic it was.

The Vikings gave the Tar Heels everything they could handle in this non-conference affair. The upset-minded Vikings even went into the final three minutes of play with a 76-72 lead. But North Carolina showed why they are nationally-ranked as they went on a 10-0 run to finish the game on their way to an 82-76 win.

“I’ve never won the lottery, when you win the lottery you must feel as lucky as I do now,” North Carolina head coach Roy Williams said after the game. “Mike and his staff out-coached us; they played with more intelligence and deserved to win the game.”

“I’m challenging the City of Cleveland, this university, and the campus to come in and get behind us,” Cleveland State head coach Mike Garland said on the big crowd on-hand. “We can win some games. Now we’re babies, and we’re going to make some mistakes, but there are some kids in there that will sell their souls to win ball games.”

Omari Westley led the Vikings with career highs in points with 20, on 7-of-8 shooting, rebounds with 11 and assists with six. Cleveland native Jawad Williams scored 24 points for the Tar Heels, including the go-ahead three-pointer with 1:26 left.

Sean May and Rashad McCants had 19 and 18 points respectively for the Tar Heels to round out their top scorers.

Player of the Week:

Omari Westley, Cleveland State, career highs in points, rebounds and assists in 82-76 thriller against North Carolina.

Newcomer of the Week:

Vova Severovas, Wright State, scored 12 points against South Florida.

Illinois-Chicago (6-1):

It is not taking long for the Illinois-Chicago Flames to prove why they are the favorites to win the league title. After dropping their second game of the season to Oakland (Mich.) of the Mid-Continent Conference at the BCA Classic, the Flames are blazing with now five wins in a row.

The hot player for the Flames is Cedrick Banks as he averaged 22.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.5 steals per game in four games last week. In their win over Texas-San Antonio on Saturday, Banks scored 20 points, had seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. Then, on Tuesday, Banks had 16 in their 77-60 win over Eastern Illinois.

The Flames will continue to live out of their suitcases this weekend as they will head to the Hawkeye Tournament in Iowa City, Iowa. On Friday, the Flames will play Northern Illinois for a 7:05 p.m. tip-off. On the next night, Illinois-Chicago will take on either the host Iowa Hawkeyes or Eastern Washington.

UW-Milwaukee (3-1):

In an early season premier showdown, the Panthers could not make a stand in a revenge game against Southern Illinois on Saturday in Milwaukee.

A re-match of last year’s ESPN Bracket Buster classic in Carbondale, which SIU won 66-64 on a buzzer beater, the Saluki’s were the ones in charge as they kept UWM off balance for much of the game.

Darren Brooks had a game-high 26 points for Southern Illinois, while Dylan Page had another dominating performance with 24 points and 13 rebounds.

The Panthers trailed 48-38 at halftime and was able to close to within two at 60-58 with 11 minutes to go. But that was as close as they would get as SIU scored eight of the next nine and was in the driver seat for the rest of the game. With the loss, the Panthers saw their 17-game home winning streak snapped.

After their impressive 87-70 win over Prairie View A&M, which unveiled their SWAC conference championship banner before the game, the Panthers schedule is not all too polite. They will head to North Carolina State on Sunday in a nationally televised event. Then they will play at Valparaiso on Wednesday and Wisconsin on Saturday in regionally televised event.

Detroit (2-1):

The second toughest defense in the conference hounded the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in a 76-60 thrashing on Wednesday in Detroit. Rulon Harris matched his career-high with 13 points, but Elijah Warren led the way with 17 of his own. Willie Wallace scored his first career double-double with 11 points and a career high in rebounds with 12 and assists with seven. Oakland shot just a measly 27 percent in the first half, allowing the Titans to build a 43-27 lead. The second half did not get any better as Oakland wound up shooting just 32 percent on the night. Mid-Con Player of the Year candidate Mike Helms led all scorers with 20 points.

For their only game of the weekend, the Titans will head to Madison to take on 14th ranked Wisconsin in an 8 p.m. Eastern Time tip-off.

Butler (2-2):

One big game after another was the theme for the league this week and the Butler Bulldogs were the targets on Sunday. Butler entertained the Michigan Wolverines at the state-of-the art Conseco Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis. Much like the rest of the games of the weekend, this one was another classic. Michigan’s Daniel Horton hit two free throws with 6.9 seconds left in overtime to give the fighting blue a 61-60 lead and leaving Butler with one more possession. As the Bulldogs in-bounded the ball, Brandon Crone put up a desperation shot that just missed, giving Michigan the thrilling victory. Crone put Butler ahead with 10.9 seconds left on a lay-up, but sophomore Avery Sheets was called for a blocking foul, putting Horton on the line. Michigan was ice cold in the last 9:27 of the second half as they hit only one field goal and zero in the extra frame. Mike Monserez led a team that shot only 29 percent in the first half with 23 points, including 5-of-13 on three-pointers.

Hoping to rebound from a heart-breaking loss, the Bulldogs traveled to Ball State in search of a win. But Butler would encounter a rarity, a struggle from beyond the arc and it proved to be the difference as the Bulldogs lost their second game in a row, 63-61 to the Cardinals in Muncie on Wednesday. Bruce Horan and Sheets each had 14 points for the Bulldogs. Butler shot only 37 percent for the game and hit 8-of-29 shots from three-point land.

Up next for the Bulldogs is a welcomed return to Hinkle Fieldhouse, a place they have not seen since the season opener on Nov. 23. They will entertain Evansville on Saturday, who gave league-leading UIC two dog fights in their games earlier this season. Then, on Wednesday, the Bulldogs will head into Peoria to play Bradley.

Cleveland State (2-2):

As mentioned earlier, the Vikings played host to the Roy Williams and the North Carolina Tar Heels in one of the classic games in CSU history.

But, CSU could not worry too much as they would have to travel to play Big Ten foe Penn State last night. Penn State proved to be too much as the Nittany Lions built up a 23-point first half lead en route to a 73-62 win for PSU. Pape Badiane and Jermaine Robinson each scored 14 to lead the way for CSU. The Vikings would shorten the gap to 40-31 at the break and would score the first four points of the second. But, PSU would score the next seven and would run away as the Vikings could not get shots to fall during the second half.

The schedule gets a little lighter for the Vikings as they approach finals week. On Saturday, CSU will entertain Utah Valley State, in a homecoming game, for their only game of the week.

Loyola-Chicago (1-1):

A little rust showed early on for the Ramblers, who had not played since Nov. 21, as they struggled from the field, especially at the free throw line. But the Ramblers mounted a 15-0 run midway through the second half en route to an 83-75 overtime win over UMKC in Kansas City on Tuesday. The Ramblers shot just 20-of-42 from the line, including missing nine within the last two minutes of regulation as they tried to shut the door on the Kangaroos. Freshman Majak Kou played a pivotal role in his season-high 19 point effort. After losing a 67-56 lead, Kou hit a go-ahead jumper with 46 seconds into in the extra session and Loyola-Chicago held UMKC scoreless for the first four minutes of overtime to put the nail in the coffin.

The Ramblers will get another extended break as they will not play another game until Saturday, Dec. 13 at Valparaiso. Then it will be four games in seven days.

Youngstown State (2-3):

The Penguins could have easily been arrested for stealing after picking St. Francis (Penn.) pockets for 31 turnovers in a 77-61 win on Saturday at the Beeghly Center. With the win, YSU extended their November home winning streak to 10 games. Adam Baumann led the way with 16 points and six boards. Khari McQueen also pitched in with 12 more. Head coach John Robic had 12 different players score in the game.

A quick turnaround from their win on Saturday, YSU traveled to the home of the Boston Tea Party, but it was certainly no party. YSU trailed 39-24 at the half and struggled to get back into the game in an 83-61 loss to Boston University on Monday. The game marked a homecoming for TeJay Anderson, McQueen and Derrick Harris for YSU who were playing in their home state. What killed the Penguins were 22 turnovers compared to just 11 for Boston, making it difficult to mount any type of offensive rhythm. YSU were without the services of starter Jonathan Mends as he sprained his left ankle in their win over St. Francis. He is not expected to miss any more action.

After going 1-1 over the weekend, the Penguins looked to finish off an impressive week over Slippery Rock in the friendly atmosphere of the Beeghly Center. With the help of tying a school-record for three-pointers in a single game with 14, the Penguins blew up for a 106-69 win. It is the first time YSU eclipsed the century mark since Jan. 25, 2001 when they scored 116 in a triple-overtime loss at Western Illinois, their last season in the Mid-Continent Conference. YSU last hit 14 three’s in 1999 against Southern Utah and it is the third time they have accomplished the feat with the first coming against Pittsburgh-Bradford in 1992. Six different players scored in double figures, led by Anderson’s 13 points and 13 rebounds for the double-double effort.

Youngstown will return to the road for their next two games. The first will be on Saturday in Buffalo and then they will head to 22nd ranked Pittsburgh on the 13th.

UW-Green Bay (1-3):

The Phoenix broke into the win column this past week as they defeated Western Illinois in the home opener on Saturday 70-55. Sophomore Terry Parker scored a career-high 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting and 4-of-5 from deep range. Green Bay was ice cold in the first half, only hitting 25 percent of their shots. However, they still were able to trail only by one at the break. Green Bay opened the second half on an 8-0 run and Parker scored 16 of his 25 in the second half. True freshman Tyler Koening had 11 points and a game-high eight rebounds in his first extensive action as a collegiate player.

After gaining momentum late against Western Illinois, the Phoenix struggled all night in their first of two upcoming Big Ten showdowns, the first with the Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City on Tuesday night. The Hawkeyes improved to 4-0 with the convincing 82-56 win over the Phoenix. Iowa opened the game with an 11-1 run and Green Bay would be the chaser the entire night. Iowa used their muscle to out-rebound UWGB 55-33 on the boards, which proved to be a major difference. But many encouraging signs came from head coach Tod Kowalczyk’s youngsters. Freshmen Josh Lawrence and Koening each had 12 points, with Lawrence adding six rebounds and three block shots.

The Phoenix will head out on the road starting on Wednesday against Wisconsin and then to Macomb to finish off a home-and-home against Western Illinois on Sunday the 14th.

Wright State (0-3):

Senior Vernard Hollins scored 22 points, but that was not enough as the Raiders fell to Conference USA opponent South Florida 74-59 in Tampa on Saturday. Hollins also had four of the six assists that Wright State had in the ball game. The game could have been a lot worse for WSU as they only converted on nine of 34 shots in the first half and still managed to trail only be three late in the half. Then the Bulls blew the game open with 10-2 run to finish off the half and bounce into the second. WSU could not recover.

Still searching for their first win for new head coach Paul Biancardi, the Raiders tried to break into the left-hand column against Morehead State in Kentucky. That first win will have to wait again as the Raiders lost 65-60 on Wednesday night. WSU has now gone 3-10 since Feb. 1 of last season, including four in a row. Things looked that WSU was going to get that tough first win as they shot 49 percent on the night, but MSU used a 12-of-31 effort from three-point range to seal the deal. Hollins led WSU scorers with 16 points, while Seth Doliboa had 14. Newcomer of the week Severovas has seven points to go along with 14 rebounds and another freshman, Alex Kock, had nine.

The chances for Wright State to get a win are not going to get easier. The Raiders play two three very tough non-conference opponents. The first will be against Ball State, who picked up the big win against Butler on Wednesday, this Saturday. Then it will be off to Oxford, Ohio in a showdown with Miami.


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