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Big South Notebook

January 19, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments



Big South Conference Notebook

by Jeremy Dunlap

Making Moves

The top of the Big South standings remains rather crowded as five teams still sit within a game-and-a-half of first place, but High Point and Winthrop both did their best to improve their positions in the standings this past week. Both the Panthers and the Eagles went 2-0 last week, making them the two hottest teams in the league.

After suffering their first conference loss of the season last week, High Point took a pair of games from VMI and Radford and improved their first-place conference record to 5-1. Winthrop started the conference season 1-2 but has reeled off three straight W’s, including two this week over UNC Asheville and Coastal Carolina to move to 4-2 and third place, right behind 4-1 Birmingham-Southern. Coastal Carolina and Liberty sit right behind the leaders with 3-2 records.

Player of the Week

Birmingham-Southern senior forward Grant Davis played about as perfect of a game as possible in BSC’s only contest of the week, an 82-49 blowout at VMI. Davis did not miss a shot, shooting 8-for-8 from the field, including a perfect 5-for-5 from three-point range and made his only free throw on his way to a 22-point, 12-rebound effort.

Team Reports

Birmingham-Southern Panthers (11-4, 4-1) Last Week: 1-0

Maybe nobody gave Birmingham-Southern the memo that it is supposed to be difficult when you play conference road games, because the Panthers have not had any trouble away from home so far away from Bill Battle Coliseum. In their only game of the week, BSC went to VMI and destroyed the Keydets 82-49, giving them a 3-0 road record in the conference.

In the romp over the Keydets, Birmingham-Southern was led by the perfect night of senior forward Grant Davis, who did not miss a shot as he scored a team-high 22 points and grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds. Junior guard Jakob Sigurdarson also had a very strong game, making 5-of-7 three-pointers on his way to a 19-point performance. As a team, the Panthers made 17-of-29 three pointers.

The Panthers will attempt to raise their conference road record to 4-0 Jan. 19 when they face Radford at the Dedmon Center. After that, BSC will return home for games against Liberty and Winthrop Jan. 22 and 24, with the Winthrop game being regionally televised.

Charleston Southern Buccaneers (3-13, 0-5) Last Week: 0-2

The first conference win of the season remains elusive for CSU as they dropped two home games this week, losing to Coastal Carolina 66-61 Jan. 13 and to UNC Asheville 62-49 Jan. 17.

The close loss to Coastal overshadowed very good performances by junior forward Trent Drafts and senior guard Ed O’Neil. Drafts scored a career-high 18 points as O’Neil did everything else, scoring 11 points, grabbing eight rebounds, dishing out six assists and getting nine steals on the defensive end. O’Neil also played a solid game in the loss to UNC-A, finishing with 14 points, four assists, and four steals.

CSU will hit the road for their next three games, with the first being at Winthrop Jan. 21.

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (8-8, 3-2) Last Week: 1-1

The Chanticleers played two hard-fought, close games this last week, splitting the two decisions. Coastal opened the week with a 66-61 win at Charleston Southern before falling to Winthrop 66-65 at home.

Senior guard E.J. Gallup was unstoppable in the win over Charleston Southern. Gallup scored 28 points from all different places on the court and also grabbed five rebounds and five steals. He also drilled a three-pointer late in the game after CSU closed Coastal’s lead to two points late in the game. Against, Winthrop, Coastal was boosted by the return of junior guard Alvin Green, who scored 13 points, collected seven rebounds, and dished out five assists in his first game back after an injury kept him out of Coastal’s last few contests.

The Chants will play a pair of games this week, starting Jan. 19 as they host UNC Asheville. After a few days off, Coastal will travel to Radford and battle the Highlanders Jan. 24, attempting to snap a 12-game losing streak against Radford.

High Point Panthers (12-5, 5-1) Last Week: 2-0

The Panthers proved that they could bounce back from a loss as they recovered from their defeat to Liberty Jan. 10 by beating VMI and Radford at home Jan. 14 and 17.

In both their 78-57 win over VMI and their 72-67 victory over Radford, High Point was led by junior forward Danny Gathings, who continues to show how he led the league last year in points and rebounds. Against VMI, Gathings shot 9-for-13 from the field and scored 23 points while collecting 11 rebounds. Gathings just missed another double-double against the Highlanders as he scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

High Point will have a quiet week ahead, only playing one game. The Panthers hit the road and play UNC Asheville Jan. 24.

Liberty Flames (6-11, 3-2) Last Week: 0-1

Liberty’s struggles away from home continued this past week, as they lost their only game last week. The Flames traveled to Radford and lost 83-76, falling to 2-9 away from the Vines Center.

Once again, Liberty depended on the tandem of freshman guard Larry Blair and senior forward Gabe Martin. Blair scored a team-high 22 points as Martin chipped in with 18 points and six rebounds. The loss at Radford’s Dedmon Center marked the seventh straight time that Liberty has lost in that building.

The Flames will look to get back to the win column with a pair of games in the next few days. Liberty will host VMI Jan. 20 before hitting the road to play Birmingham-Southern Jan. 22.

Radford Highlanders (6-9, 2-3) Last Week: 1-1

The Highlanders had two difficult games on the schedule but managed to come away with a split as they defeated Liberty at home, 83-76 and lost at High Point, 72-67.

As is normally the case, sophomore guard Whit Holcomb-Faye was the go-to guy for the Highlanders, averaging 23 points in the two contests. But unlike most games this year, Holcomb-Faye started getting some help from others on the team. Senior forward Aaron Gill, junior guard Olumuyiwa Popoola and freshman forward Chris Oliver all had solid weeks. Gill averaged 12.5 points and seven rebounds in the two contests while Popoola added 15 points per contest. Oliver was perhaps the biggest surprise, getting a double-double against Liberty and scoring 13 points against High Point.

Radford gets to stay in the comfy confines of the Dedmon Center this week, hosting both Birmingham-Southern and Coastal Carolina. The Jan. 24 game against Coastal will be regionally telecast in the Mid-Atlantic.

UNC Asheville Bulldogs (4-13, 2-4) Last Week: 1-1

The Bulldogs continue to adjust to life without injured center Joseph Barber, but they were able to manage to grab their first road win of the year as they defeated Charleston Southern, 622-49 Jan. 17, three days after dropping a 76-62 decision to Winthrop at home.

Freshman guard K.J. Garland continues to be the Bulldogs’ most reliable player, scoring 14 points in the loss to Winthrop along with scoring a team-leading 16 points in the win over Charleston Southern. Junior forward Brian McCullough also played well against CSU, adding 15 points in the victory.

UNC-A has two difficult foes to face in the upcoming week. The Bulldogs head to Conway, S.C., Jan. 19 to battle Coastal Carolina before heading back home to face first-place High Point Jan. 24.

VMI Keydets (3-12, 1-4) Last Week: 0-2

Wins remain difficult to come by for the newest Big South team, as VMI dropped a pair of games last week to the top two teams in the conference, losing 78-57 at High Point and 82-49 at home against Birmingham-Southern.

Senior forward Radee Skipworth continues to play well after coming back from his ankle injury. Skipworth led the Keydets in scoring in both of their games with 20 points against High Point and 14 points against Birmingham-Southern. Freshman guard Matt Coward did his best to help Skipworth in the High Point loss, scoring 15 points and dishing out seven assists.

The schedule does not get any easier for VMI this week as they hit the road to battle Liberty Jan. 20. The Keydets lost their last trip to the Vines Center, falling 77-69 last season, despite the 28 points of departed guard Jason Conley.

Winthrop Eagles (10-7, 4-2) Last Week: 2-0

Winthrop moved to 4-2 in the conference and increased its winning streak to three games with a pair of road wins this week. The Eagles opened the week with a 76-62 win at UNC Asheville and finished it with a thrilling 66-65 win at Coastal Carolina.

The Eagles were given good news this week with the return of freshman guard Torrell Martin, who is the team’s second leading scorer. Though his shot was a bit rusty (he was scoreless in both games), his return has bolstered the Eagles’ perimeter defense and athleticism. Senior forward Tyrone Walker scored the game-winning basket against Coastal Carolina with nine seconds remaining, capping off a team-high effort of 15 points and eight rebounds.

The Eagles will try to extend their winning streak with a home game against Charleston Southern Jan. 21 and a game at Birmingham-Southern Jan. 24. Winthrop has already faced BSC once, falling 61-54 in a home game Jan. 3.

     

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