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Horizon League Semifinals Recap

March 9, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Horizon League Semifinals Recap

Recap by Nick Dettmann

No. 1 UW-Milwaukee 58, No. 4 Detroit 50

The league’s top offense collided with the league’s top defense in the semifinals at the Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. One of them had to give. It was the offense of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but their defense showed up as well in a low-scoring 58-50 win over Detroit on Saturday afternoon.

The Panthers were led by the league’s newcomer of the year Ed McCants with 20 points, 15 of which came in the first 20 minutes of play.

“Ed carried us offensively,” UWM coach Bruce Pearl said. “We knew early in the game because Detroit having had played, the advantage would go to them.

“We wanted to try and hang in there until we got our feet wet a little bit and then Ed just carried us offensively. He’s got great weapons and he’s going to be a great player, and he’s getting closer to being a great player and doing all things.”

UWM got off to the quick start against the Titans as they jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the opening five minutes of the game. Then, Detroit countered by scoring eight of the next 10 points to tie the game at 10 with 10:13 to go in the first half.

Continuing with a half that was filled with runs, UWM ran the lead back up to six on two different occasions. They held a 22-16 lead with 3:54 to go, but Detroit inched closer as the half expired and brought the halftime deficit to 27-25 in favor of UWM.

Detroit came out of the second half with a 9-3 run in the first 3:25 of the second to take a 34-30 lead. Their last lead of the game would come with 11:15 to go as they held a 39-38 lead. But UWM took over from the there, using a week off to their advantage to run away with the game.

Before Detroit knew it, with 4:02 to go, UWM was leading 50-41. UWM would hold to a late rally by Detroit by hitting 8-of-10 free throws in the last 1:23.

No. 2 Illinois-Chicago 65, No. 6 Butler 56

The Illinois-Chicago Flames knocked Butler out of their hosting duties with a win in their semifinal game at the Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday night. With the win, UIC advances to the league title game for the second time in three years. It also sets up a match-up with arch rival UWM, last year’s league tournament champion.

“We don’t play the crowd, we play the team,” UIC coach Jimmy Collins said. “I’m very pleased to go back because if we don’t go back, it means we lost. I’m very pleased to go back home.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game, we know it’s going to be a hostile crowd, but that’s what makes the rivalry so good. We’re looking forward to it. We heard some players from Milwaukee say that they hoped we go there again.”

The win for UIC also set a new school-record for wins in a season with 23, solidifying a trip to the postseason. But whether it will be the NCAA or the NIT will, for the most part, by answered after Tuesday night.

Cedrick Banks scored 14 of his game-high 22 points in the second half to lead the Flames. It was UIC’s third win over Butler this season. Going into the season, Butler had won the previous 10 meetings between the two.

Bruce Horan led Butler with 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting and Duane Lightfoot added 15 points and seven rebounds.

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