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Big Sky Notebook

January 23, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Big Sky Conference Notebook

by Nicholas Lozito

Bengals Bounce Back

Sports are unpredictable. One day you’ll think you have everything figured out, and the next day the Carolina Panthers are in the Super Bowl. The Big Sky Conference is no exception.

When the preseason came to a close, the Idaho State Bengals — 5-9 at the time — looked like a North Dakota high school junior varsity basketball team. The Bengals’ biggest wins were against Binghamton, Arkansas-Little Rock and Texas-San Antonio, and it looked as if a preseason, season-ending injury to starting shooting guard David Schroeder was too much to overcome.

But to the Pacific Northwest’s surprise — with the exception of Northern Arizona — the Bengals have found their groove in early Big Sky action. Idaho State is 2-1, with a home win over defending champion Weber State and a road victory over the conference’s top team in the preseason, Montana State. Their only loss was at Montana in a game where the Grizzlies shot 54.7 percent from the field and outrebounded ISU 50-27.

Leading the resurgence in Pocatello have been forwards Scott Henry and Doug D’Amore. Henry, who struggled early in the preseason, has averaged 18.6 points and 8.3 rebounds in conference play. Last season, Henry was one of the conference leaders in double-doubles for a Bengals squad that finished four slots higher in the conference standings than the year prior. D’Amore, who averages 7.5 points and 2.4 rebounds, recorded 28 points and nine boards in the upset win against Montana State.

Craven Criticizes Officials, Receives Suspension

Weber State head coach Joe Cravens was suspended for one game after criticizing Big Sky officiating on a radio talk show last Wednesday. Cravens, when asked about his team’s road game at Idaho State, “questioned the ‘level of officiating’ on the road and suggested some officials can be easily intimidated by home crowds,” according to ESPN reports.

Craven was suspended for Weber State’s game against Montana State, which the Wildcats lost 61-48. Cravens has since apologized for his comments. The Bengals’ loss against Idaho State snapped a 15-game conference winning streak.

Durham’s Da Man

With Montana State’s win over Weber State, head coach Mick Durham became the Big Sky’s all-time winningest coach in conference games with 102. Durham, whose all-time record with the Bobcats is 213-178, is only one win shy of breaking the all-time wins record for a Big Sky coach — former Boise State head coach Bobby Dye holds the all-time mark with a record of 214-132.

Player Of The Week

Seamus Boxley, Portland State

Averaged 18.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in a win at Northern Arizona and a loss at Sacramento State.

Gazing The Sky

Eastern Washington Eagles 68, Sacramento State Hornets 62

The Eagles most recent victory came on the road against Sacramento State, 68-62, capping a 2-0 road trip. Marc Axton scored 16 first half points — 22 overall — and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Eastern Washington, despite leaving the game momentarily with a lower leg injury. Shooting guard Brandon Merritt also missed much of the first half with a leg injury, but later returned.

6-foot-2 Guard Alvin Snow did a phenomenal job of shutting down the larger Joel Jones, one of the conference’s top offensive players, holding him to eight points on 3-of-6 shooting. Snow diminished with fourteen points and seven rebounds. Teammate Josh Barnard also finished with fourteen. The Eagles shot 56.8 percent from the field, but only 53.8 percent from the line.

Sac State was led by shooting guard Joseth Dawson’s 19 points, and 13 from forward Chris Lange. Jones had five assists. The Hornets shot 37.7 percent from the field, but made 19-of-26 free throws, an area they had recently struggled in.

Eastern Washington 63, Northern Arizona Lumberjacks 57

Merritt scored a game-high nineteen points to lead the Eagles to a 63-57 win over the Lumberjacks. Snow added ten points and eight rebounds, while freshman forward Matt Nelson scored 15. Forward Kelly Golob led Northern Arizona with fifteen points as the Lumberjacks, the leagues top 3-point shooting team, converted only 5-of-16 attempts.

Idaho State 75, Montana State 64

Marquise Poole is the foundation of Idaho State’s team. The senior point guard played all 40 minutes and dished out six assists in the upset win, while D’Amore scored 28. Jesse Smith (10 points), Jeff Gardner (11) and Scott Henry (13) all scored in double figures as well. Shooting guard Jason Erickson also played all 40 minutes and scored eighteen points for Montana State, while point guard Frank Brown had eight assists. The Bobcats hoisted 29 3-pointers, making only seven.

Idaho State 76, Montana 91

Kamarr Davis scored 23 points and grabbed twelve rebounds to lead the Grizzlies over Idaho State. The Montana backcourt tandem of Kevin Criswell and Derrick Mansell combined for 30 points, eleven assists and eleven rebounds. Poole scored 24 points and twelve assists for the Bengals, while Henry had 24 points and eleven rebounds.

Montana State 61, Weber State 48

Erickson scored a game-high 22 points, including 4-of-6 3-pointers, to lead Montana State over defending conference champion Weber State. The Bobcats forced 29 turnovers, including sixteen steals on the night. Wildcat forward Slobodan Ocokoljic scored thirteen points, but turned the ball over eleven times on the night. The Wildcats did out-rebound the Bobcats 36-22.

Portland State Vikings 71, Northern Arizona 65

Starting Viking forward Seamus Boxley had 23 points and fifteen rebounds, while backup forward Seth Scott had eleven points in only sixteen minutes. Portland State, which has the most athletic and versatile frontline in the conference, out-rebounded the Lumberjacks 34-27. Aaron Bond led NAU with 26 points. After scoring twelve points-or-more in his prior ten games, Viking shooting guard Blake Walker has scored ten and eight, respectively, in his last two games.

Northern Arizona made only 4-of-17 3-pointers, while the Vikings had only six assists.

Portland State 64, Sacramento State 76

Sac State has been looking for one of their big men to step up, and last Thursday Cedric Thompkins answered that call. Thompkins scored nineteen points and grabbed five rebounds to lead the Hornets to their only conference win on a three game homestand. Shooting guard Brandon Guyton made 4-of-8 3-pointers en route to sixteen points, as the Hornets kept the up-tempo style game they prefer in the second half, scoring 46 points.

Weber State 74, Montana 61

Frontcourt players Lance Allred (ten points), Slobodan Ocokolijic (nineteen points), Pat Danley (fifteen points) and Nic Sparrow (eleven points) led Weber State in scoring, as the guards could muster only eleven points. Kevin Criswell led Montana with 16 points. The Grizzlies only had five assists.


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