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Big Sky Notebook

February 5, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Big Sky Conference Notebook

by Nicholas Lozito

The Slammies

For two years I’ve been waiting to see Sacramento State’s dunking duo of Jameel Pugh and Joel Jones do their thing. And Saturday night against Montana, I finally got my wish.

Dunk No. 1: As me and my student-radio broadcast partner Danny Pinto struggle to set up our equipment — two minutes into the game — we glance up to see Jones receive a pass on the fast beak. Jones, a graceful 6-foot-5 swingman, takes off a few feet inside the free-throw line and finishes with his right hand.

Dunk No. 2: After Pinto and I failed to figure out how to set up our 1970’s radio equipment, we went down to the floor and took a seat behind press row. As soon as we sit down, the Hornets are on the break again with Joseth Dawson handling the ball and Pugh to his right. Dawson lobs an alley-oop pass which sails a good foot above the square on the backboard. Pugh rises to a ridiculous height and grabs the pass with two hands, then switches to just his right hand for a monstrous spike jam.

Dunk No. 3: Pugh gets a steal on the perimeter and there is nobody between him and the basket. The entire crowd is on their feet in anticipation of what the No. 33-rated dunker by Slam Magazine will do. After the game, Pugh said he didn’t attempt a between-the-legs or elbow-in-the-rim slam because he was fearful of what Hornet coach Jerome Jenkins’ reaction would be. So, instead, he elevated as high as he could, finishing with a ferocious right hand tomahawk jam.

Dunk No. 4: Minutes later, Jones has the ball on the wing, and he finds a crease in the defense. Only Grizzly forward Kamarr Davis is between him and the basket. Mr. Davis, meet Mr. Jones.

Jones finished the game with a team-high 22 points for the Hornets, who defeated the Grizzlies 76-67. Pugh and Dawson both finished with eleven points, while Davis led Montana with 24 points.

The Hornets defeated Montana State on Thursday, 77-71, receiving a clutch performance from third-string, walk-on point guard James Payne. Payne sparked the Hornets’ go-ahead run in the second half with tenacious defense and a bank 3-pointer from the right wing as the shot clock expired.

The Hornets are 8-3 in games in Hornet Gym, 1-8 in road games.

Eagles Flying High

With a convincing 100-73 win at home over Idaho State, and another win over Weber State, 73-67, Eastern Washington maintained a one-game lead in the Big Sky standings. Against Weber State, junior forward Marc Axton led the way with 25 points and eight rebounds. Against Idaho State, it was guard Alvin Snow who recorded 20 points, six rebounds and six assists.

The Eagles have now won six-straight conference games after losing their opener to Montana at home. Junior shooting guard Josh Barnard has continued his torrid shooting from 3-point range, connecting on 6-of-11 treys against Idaho State. Barnard is shooting 51.6 percent on the season. After playing less than 20 minutes in each of the season’s first seven games, freshman forward Matt Nelson has played over 20 minutes in twelve of the past thirteen, providing Axton with a legitimate frontcourt scoring partner.

Gazing The Sky

After losing their first eight road games, Eastern Washington has won their past four — including three in conference play. The Eagles 27-point victory over Idaho State was their largest victory of the season.

After home wins over Montana, 83-67, and Montana State, 63-57, Northern Arizona has now won four-straight conference games. Forward Aaron Bond is the Big Sky’s second leading scorer at 17.4 points, including 26 and 16-point efforts this past weekend. The Lumberjacks attempt the most 3-pointers per game (8.6) and connect on the second-best percentage (38.1 percent) in the conference.

Idaho State got slapped around by Eastern Washington on Thursday, losing 100-73, then beat Portland State on Saturday, 80-71. Point guard Marquise Poole recorded 29 points, seven rebounds and five assists against the Vikings. The Bengals also lost a non-conference game on Monday to Idaho, 75-59.

Both Montana State and Montana were swept this weekend at Sacramento State and Northern Arizona. Portland State was swept by Weber State and Idaho State.

The Hornets have moved from last place into a tie for fourth with the sweep. Only one game separates the bottom five teams.

Player of the Week

Marquise Poole, Idaho State

Averaged 25.5 points, six rebounds, seven assists and 1.5 steals for the Bengals in conference games this weekend.


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