Horizon League Notebook
Even though the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has a two-game lead in the league standings heading into play this week, the race for the bye into the semi’s is heating up.
The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and Wright State are tied at 9-3 in the league standings, fighting for second place. Finishing in second place will be very key, as that team will get a bye in the league tournament all the way to the semi-finals. The third place team will have to play an extra game.
In last year’s format, both Butler and UW-Milwaukee got the byes into the semi’s with Illinois-Chicago getting the extra game. And of course, it was Butler and UWM in the championship game.
Green Bay helped their cause by going 2-0 with wins over Cleveland State and Youngstown State. In addition, the Phoenix guaranteed themselves their first winning season since the 1998-’99 season when they went 20-11. Wright State went 1-1, with their loss coming at UWM. UWM now swept both of the teams that are under them in the standings, which is going to be key for tie-breakers if the standings come down to that.
UIC is still in the hunt for that second spot at 7-4. They are the last legitimate team that has a shot at those byes. They are finally on a roll, as they have won four in a row, including a key 86-82 win over UWM in Chicago last Thursday. Detroit and Butler at 5-6 are long-shots but do have a chance. They are going to need a lot of help.
As the weeks tick away, the games get more and more important. Among the big games coming up in the Horizon League that can have a very big factor on tournament seeds are:
Feb. 19 – UW-Milwaukee at Butler
Feb. 26 – UW-Green Bay at Detroit; Wright State at Illinois-Chicago
Feb. 28 – Butler at Illinois-Chicago; Wright State at UW-Green Bay
Titans to honor legend
The University of Detroit will celebrate their homecoming festivities on Saturday when they host Butler on ESPN2 at noon EDT. In addition, they will honor one of their legends, Dave DeBusschere.
DeBusschere, a three-time All-American, passed away suddenly last year. He was a key part to the Titans reaching the post-season for the first time in school history with trips to the NIT in 1960 and ’61 and the NCAA in 1962. He played for legendary coach Bob Calihan and is the only Titan in school history to average 20 points per game for three straight seasons.
DeBusschere is the number three scorer in school history with 1,985 points in just three seasons. He is the record holder for career scoring average at 24.8 points per game. He was a member of Detroit’s inaugural Hall of Fame induction class in 1977 and his jersey number 22 was retired in ’78.
After his time at Detroit, he pitched briefly with the Chicago White Sox and spent 12 seasons in the NBA with the Detroit Pistons and the New York Knicks. He was an eight-time All-Star and two-time NBA champion.
Prior to the start of the game, there will be a moment of silence in his honor to go along with a ceremonial jump ball involving family members and Detroit and Butler’s team captains. At halftime, the City of Detroit will offer a proclamation, officially calling Saturday “Dave DeBusschere Day”.
Player of the week
Cedrick Banks, Illinois-Chicago.
Banks scored 20 of his team-high 27 points in a crucial 86-82 win over UWM last Thursday. It marked the fourth straight game where he has scored 20 or more points, all wins for UIC.
Newcomer of the week
DaShaun Wood, Wright State.
Wood is definitely making a case as the league’s Newcomer of the Year. He scored a collegiate-high 21 points against Loyola-Chicago. He also had a collegiate-high eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. Against UWM, he had 10 points, seven boards, one assist and two steals.
UW-Milwaukee (16-6 overall, 11-1 Horizon League)
Riding a 10-game league winning streak, the Panthers went into a place they do not do well at, the UIC Pavilion. Their feelings about the building remained the same following an 86-82 loss to the Flames last Thursday night. Head coach Bruce Pearl was ejected from the game late in the first half for the first time since coming to UWM. Dylan Page scored 31 points, but would suffer a mild ankle sprain late in the game.
With a slim one-game lead over visiting Wright State, the Panthers and Raiders went at it for a fight for first place. Under the direction of Joah Tucker’s 17 points and 12 rebounds, the Panthers gutted out a 72-66 win over Wright State to re-gain a two-game lead in the standings. Nine total players were in double-figures in this game, five for WSU and four for UWM. Ed McCants had 15 points, Page and Kalombo Kadima each had 10 for UWM. Page gave a valiant effort, as he did not practice leading into the game against Wright State and was a game-time decision if he would play. By defeating the Raiders, the Panthers are now in full control of the standings as they look to win their first-ever regular season championship.
The Panthers have five games to go. First up, will be Loyola-Chicago at the U.S. Cellular Arena on Thursday night. UWM won the first meeting in a 97-87 shoot-out. After that, UWM will play two on the road with the first stop coming in Youngstown, Ohio on Valentine’s Day.
UW-Green Bay (15-7, 9-3)
Never take an opponent for granted. That is what the Phoenix nearly did last week, as they met two of the bottom three teams in the standings. Continuing on their three-game road trip, the Phoenix traveled to Cleveland to take on the Vikings. The upset-minded Vikings nearly pulled it out, but Matt Rohde hit a 15-footer with 4.1 seconds remaining to give Green Bay a 60-58 win at the Goodman Arena in the CSU Convocation Center. In both wins by Green Bay over CSU, it was by a combined three points. Green Bay beat CSU 70-69 in Green Bay back on January 3. The Vikings nibbled away a seven-point lead with 1:18 to go, thanks to a barrage of three’s, including Jermaine Robinson’s game-tying three with 10 seconds to go. Green Bay did not call a time-out and immediately rushed the ball up the floor, where Rohde put up the game-winner in the lane. Robinson had a chance to win it, but it was partially blocked by Matt King. Green Bay’s Brandon Morris led the Phoenix in scoring with 14 points, while Rohde and Javier Mendiburu each had 11.
Green Bay likes to play close games. In their last four wins, they have won by a combined 11 points. They continued that pattern after a 73-70 win in overtime at Youngstown State last Saturday. Green Bay erased a nine-point deficit late in the second half to help get the victory. The Phoenix got out to a quick seven-point lead and had a 71-65 lead with just over a minute to go in the extra frame. But the Penguins came back to bring it to within one at 71-70 with 15 seconds to go. Mendiburu was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line in the overtime, including the final two with 12 seconds to go. Mendiburu ended the night with a collegiate-high 19 points on the night.
The Phoenix return home for two games against the Chicago teams, but only one of them will be this week. First up, will be Loyola on Saturday. Then, UIC will come to town next Wednesday.
Wright State (12-10, 9-3)
The Raiders are now in a fight for second place. And what a better time to get some big wins than to play four of five at home. First up was Loyola from the Nutter Center. Looking to take the season series, the Raiders got a collegiate-high 21 points from DaShaun Wood en route to an 83-71 win. Vernard Hollins, Seth Doliboa and Alex Kock also had double figures for the Raiders with 19, 18 and 11 respectively. The Raiders simply dominated every facet of the game. They out-rebounded the Ramblers 39-22 and out-shot them 51-50 percent.
Thanks to UIC beating UWM, the Raiders closed to within a game of the first place Panthers going into their game last Saturday. Unfortunately, the Raiders could not take advantage of it, as they fell 72-66 to UWM in Milwaukee. Five players were in double figures, including Doliboa’s double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Drew Burleson led the Raiders with 14 points, while Hollins and Vova Severovas each had 11 and Wood had 10. In a game that only featured a combined 13 turnovers, the Raiders struggled to shoot the ball, as they shot 37 percent from the field and 64 percent from the free throw line.
Wright State begins three straight at home with a meeting with Detroit. Wright State won the first meeting 67-61 in Detroit on January 10. Then, on Valentine’s Day, the Raiders will take a break from league action with a game against IP-Fort Wayne. They will close out the home stand with a game against in-state rival Youngstown State on the 19th.
Illinois-Chicago (16-7, 7-4)
In their lone game of the week, the Flames could not have gotten a bigger win. They defeated the first-place Panthers 86-82 at the UIC Pavilion, keeping them within striking distance of the top spot. But more importantly, it keeps them just a game and a half out of third place, which would mean a first round bye in the league tournament. Cedrick Banks scored 20 of his team-leading 27 points in the second half to comeback from a 10-point deficit mid-way through the second half. UWM head coach Bruce Pearl was ejected with 30 seconds left in the first half after arguing a foul call against his Panthers. UIC would come out ahead 32-30 after all six of the free throw tosses. UIC would fall behind by 10 mid-way through, but would quickly reel off a 23-5 run over the next five minutes to ice the game. Martell Bailey had 14 points and 10 assists and Armond Williams had 12 points and 12 rebounds to also contribute with a double-double.
The Flames have a game that could be troublesome in Youngstown against the Penguins on Thursday. YSU is thinking upset. After that, UIC will head into Cleveland where the Vikings are also thinking upset on Saturday.
Detroit (11-10, 5-6)
Jimmy Twyman scored a collegiate-high 24 points to help halt a three-game losing streak by defeating Youngstown State 64-43 in Detroit on Thursday. Detroit controlled virtually the entire game after taking the lead out of a 9-9 tie. Twyman had 19 first half points and Detroit had an 11-point edge at the break. Ryvon Covile also was in double-figures as he had 11 points and Rulon Harris had eight points and a game-high seven assists.
To finish out the week, the Titans got 16 points from James Thues off the bench in a 77-55 thrashing of the Cleveland State Vikings on Saturday afternoon. Torvoris Baker had 15 points for the Titans, while Willie Wallace and Covile rounded out double-figure scorers with 12 and 11 respectively. Elijah Warren, who scored a collegiate-high 37 points in the last meeting between these two teams, was held to just three points. With 14:27 left in the opening half, the Vikings had a 14-13 lead, but would forget how to score for the next 6:56. Detroit would go onto to take an 11-point lead at halftime.
The Titans can stay in the hunt to get a bye in the first round of the league tournament as they travel to Dayton to play Wright State. The Raiders won the first meeting in Detroit 67-61 on January 10. After that, they will host Butler on national television on Saturday.
Butler (10-11, 5-6)
Senior Duane Lightfoot scored a collegiate-high 22 points to help lead the Bulldogs to an easy 72-55 win over non-league opponent IP-Fort Wayne from the Hinkle Fieldhouse. Lightfoot was 5-of-7 from the field for 10 points in the first half in his first start in the past nine outings. Bruce Horan hit three three-pointers and had 11 points to help Butler get a 41-20 halftime lead. In the second half, the visitors never got closer than 14 points and Butler hit 12-of-24 shots in the second half to seal the game.
Much like his counterpart in the game before, Horan also notched a collegiate-high 22 points, this time it was against Loyola-Chicago in overtime in Chicago on Saturday. Horan continued his hot-shooting hand by going 6-of-12 from three-point attempts and were 11-of-26 overall. After trailing 59-50 with 2:51 left in remaining, the Ramblers’ DaJuan Gouard helped ignite a comeback and would hit the game-tying shot with 2.8 seconds left. Horan gave Butler the lead for good in the overtime with 1:54 left after he drilled a three. He and Mike Monserez would hit a pair of free throws to close out the game. Lightfoot also added 14 points and Monserez added 10 to round out double-figure scorers.
The Bulldogs are starting to get on track as they have won six of their last eight games and has them right in the middle of the standings and still has a shot to host the league tournament. Butler will look to make it three wins in a row as they head to Cleveland State on Thursday and will round out the week with a visit to Calihan Hall in Detroit that will be seen on ESPN2 at noon EDT.
Youngstown State (7-14, 3-8)
The Penguins saw their season-high three-game winning streak snapped after the Detroit Titans defeated them convincingly 64-43 in Detroit. Detroit’s Jimmy Twyman scored a collegiate-high 24 points in the contest. The Penguins shot just 31 percent from the field on the night. The loss to Detroit put YSU behind the Titans by one game in the standings. Khari McQueen led the Penguins with 11 points, nine of which were in the first half.
Trailing 57-50 with 2:38 remaining in the regulation, the Phoenix scored six unanswered points and forced an overtime with YSU. The Phoenix then used a 9-1 run in the extra frame to solidify a 73-70 win over the Phoenix over YSU on Saturday. Adam Baumann put on a strong effort with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Mike Woodard had 12 points as well for YSU. The Penguins held onto a 58-56 lead with 5.9 seconds left in regulation, but Green Bay’s Tyler Koening hit a lay-up to tie the game.
The Penguins have two tough home games coming up this week. On Thursday, they will entertain UIC and UWM will come to town on Saturday.
Loyola-Chicago (7-15, 3-9)
The Ramblers shot 50 percent from the field and got 22 points from Terrance Whiters off the bench, but that would not be enough as the Ramblers fell to Wright State 83-71 in Dayton, Ohio. In the first half, Loyola shot 61 percent but struggled to grab the defensive rebounds allowing Wright State to make it only 37-36 in favor of the Ramblers at halftime. The Raiders victimized Loyola to a 12-3 run to start the second half, but Loyola came back with a 16-4 run to take a 55-53 lead with 9:52 lead. Then, Wright State scored six of the next eight to seal the game. Paul McMillan scored 18 points and seven rebounds in the losing cause.
On Saturday against Butler, the Ramblers played their last home game until the season-finale against Cleveland State on Feb. 28. Loyola will play their next four on the road, but not after a 74-67 overtime loss to Butler. The Ramblers have made it a habit to play from behind as they mounted a late comeback for the fourth straight game. But, for the third time, they came up empty. Loyola got a very big boost going into the intermission as they scored the final seven points of the half to take a 29-22 lead. But with 6:29 left in regulation, Butler got a 13-2 run over the next three-plus minutes. Trailing 63-61 on the last possession, DaJuan Gouard hit a jumper with 2.8 seconds left in the game that sent it to overtime. Loyola scored the first six points of the overtime, but they could not stop Bruce Horan, as he hit a three with 1:51 left to give Butler a 70-67 lead that they would not lose. McMillan led Loyola with 15 points, while Demetrius Williams had 14 and Whiters had 10 with three steals.
The four-game road trip for Loyola does not start off easy. Up first is first place UW-Milwaukee on Thursday night. Then, they will continue north to Green Bay to take on second place UW-Green Bay on Valentine’s Day.
Cleveland State (0-14, 4-21)
In two games against the UW-Green Bay Phoenix, the Vikings have lost both games by a combined three points, after a 60-58 loss last Thursday. The Vikings had upset on their minds until Green Bay’s Matt Rohde hit a 15-footer with four seconds left to give Green Bay the victory. Omari Westley and Victor Morris each scored 15 points to lead four Vikings in double-figures.
The league’s second leading scorer, Jermaine Robinson, scored a game-high 19 points in a 77-55 loss to Detroit. It was the Vikings’ 17th straight loss, ninth in a row to Detroit and 0-15 all-time at Calihan Hall. Detroit held CSU scoreless for eight minutes in the opening half and led by 10 at halftime. The Titans then came out with the first six in the second half and were never challenged from there.
The Vikings will host Butler on Thursday to start a three-game home stand. Then, they will entertain Illinois-Chicago on Saturday before their Bracket Buster game against Eastern Michigan.
Cleveland State: Guard Walt Chavis (hand) is out indefinitely. Guard Percell Coles (eligibility) and center Walt Waters (eligibility) are expected to miss the remainder of the season.
Illinois-Chicago: Forward Josh Williams (eligibility) is out indefinitely.
Loyola-Chicago: Guard Majak Kou (foot) is out indefinitely.
UW-Milwaukee: Guard Ricardo Freeman (personal) has left the team.