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Valparaiso Crusaders Dominate Cleveland State Vikings 59-41

by - Published February 9, 2012 in Conference Notes
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The Cleveland State Vikings and Valparaiso Crusaders squared off on Thursday night at the Wolstein Center in one of the most important games of the season for both teams. While the Vikings’ season-opening victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores may have been extremely important with regards to quality wins that are considered by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, the Vikings’ best route to the NCAA Tournament is to win the Horizon League Tournament. In order to maintain their hold on first place in the Horizon League, have the opportunity to host the Horizon League Tournament, and secure an automatic spot in the tournament semifinals, the Vikings needed to defeat the Crusaders, who currently are in second place in the Horizon League.

Unfortunately for the Vikings and their fans, the Crusaders used a barrage of outside shooting to defeat the Vikings on their home floor by a score of 59-41.

The large Wolstein Center crowd was silenced early in the game as the Crusaders ran out to an 11-1 lead. Ryan Broekhoff scored all of the Crusaders’ points while the Vikings missed multiple layups and played nothing like the team who has dominated the Horizon League in recent weeks. The Crusaders gradually extended their lead throughout the middle of the first half as the Vikings missed several shots from close range.

After the Crusaders extended their lead to 20 points, the Vikings rebounded with a 9-1 run to close the half and head into the locker room trailing by 12 points. Tim Kamczyc scored four of the Vikings’ points during this run and contributed to the Vikings’ solid defensive effort against Broekhoff, who only scored three points in the first half following his 11 point barrage to open the game.

Anticipation of a Vikings comeback filled the air when the Vikings took the floor in the second half. However, the Crusaders simply refused to back down. Two quick 3-pointers by the Crusaders pushed their lead to 16 points within the first minute of the second half. Although the Vikings continued to battle, the Crusaders slowly extended their lead throughout the course of the second half. With slightly more than 12 minutes remaining, the Crusaders had built a seemingly insurmountable 21 point lead. Undaunted, the Vikings narrowed the gap to 13 points with 7:43 remaining in the second half.  Unfortunately for the Vikings and their fans, the Vikings were able to pull no closer. Despite the fact that the Vikings forced the Crusaders into 17 turnovers, the Vikings’ abysmal 25.9% shooting kept them from earning a comeback victory.

Both teams dealt with major injury issues during the game. The Vikings’ D’Aundray Brown, one of the team’s best defenders, was only able to play eight minutes as he could not overcome a painful groin injury that kept him out of action on Sunday. Kevin Van Wijk, one of the Crusaders’ best players, only played 7 minutes before he departed with what appeared to be a serious leg injury.

Broekhoff led all scorers with 24 points. Jeremy Montgomery led the Vikings with 15 points. No other player for the Vikings scored in double figures.

The Vikings will need to forget this loss and recover quickly if they intended to maintain their hold on second place in the Horizon League, as the Butler Bulldogs will be coming to the Wolstein Center for a nationally televised contest on ESPNU that will tip off at 11:00AM. The Crusaders will travel to Youngstown for a matchup with the improved Youngstown State Penguins on Saturday night.

Around the Horizon League: Week 7

by - Published December 28, 2011 in Conference Notes
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The holidays made for a relatively quiet week around the Horizon League, with each team only playing one game.

Butler Bulldogs (6-7): Butler continued their road trip with a visit to Stanford. After being down by five points at halftime, the Bulldogs rallied for a 71-66 victory over the Cardinal. Butler was fueled by Ronald Nored’s career-best 15-point performance, which included several clutch free throws in the final minute of the game to seal the Bulldogs’ victory. The Bulldogs return to action on Thursday at home against the Green Bay Phoenix and end the year with a home game on New Year’s Eve against the Milwaukee Panthers.

Cleveland State Vikings (11-2): After suffering a disappointing loss earlier in the week to South Florida, the Vikings rebounded with a solid 65-43 victory at home over the Sam Houston State Bearkats. The Vikings forced 23 turnovers and used a balanced attack to defeat the visiting Bearkats. On Wednesday, Cleveland State will travel west to  Toledo to battle the Rockets. The Vikings will end the year with a home contest against the Youngstown State Penguins on New Year’s Eve.

Detroit Titans (6-8): Detroit hosted the Alabama State Hornets last Thursday. The Titans used a 32-13 second-half run and a double-double by Doug Anderson to defeat the Hornets by a score of 80-56. Detroit will end the year with two consecutive road games in Chicago. The Titans will square off against UIC Thursday and finish the year with a game against Loyola Saturday.

Green Bay Phoenix (6-6): The Phoenix evened their record with a 63-61 victory over Idaho last Thursday. Sparked by a 19 point, 19 rebound performance by Brennan Cougill, the Phoenix overcame foul trouble to standout sophomore Alec Brown and secured their sixth victory of the season. Cougill’s performance helped him earn Co-Horizon League Player of the Week honors. The Phoenix will travel to Butler on Thursday before ending the year against the Valparaiso Crusaders on New Year’s Eve.

Loyola Ramblers (5-7): In their only game of the week, Loyola traveled to Buffalo to square off against Canisius. The Ramblers earned their fourth straight win by defeating Canisius by a score of 59-45. Loyola was once again powered by Ben Averkamp and Walt Gibler, who helped them overcome a four point halftime deficit. Averkamp chipped in with 22 points while Gibler scored 17 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Loyola will look to extend their winning streak when they host Wright State on Thursday and Detroit on Saturday.

Milwaukee Panthers (9-4): The Panthers traveled across Milwaukee to battle the nationally ranked Marquette Golden Eagles. Although the Panthers were only down by five points at halftime, Milwaukee’s poor shooting performance ultimately sunk their upset effort, and the Panthers lost by a score of 64-50. The Panthers will close out the year by traveling to Indiana for two road games. Milwaukee will battle Valparaiso on Thursday before squaring off against Butler on New Year’s Eve.

UIC Flames (4-8): UIC traveled to Dayton for a road contest against the Dayton Flyers last Thursday night. Although the Flames ended the first half with a two-point lead and remained within two points late in the game, UIC lost to the Flyers by a score of 64-57. UIC will host Detroit on Thursday before ending the year with a matchup on New Year’s Eve against Wright State.

Valparaiso Crusaders (8-5): Despite being down by 17 points at halftime to IUPUI, the Crusaders refused to quit and managed to tie the score eight minutes into the second half. However, IUPUI used a 17-4 run to defeat Valparaiso by the score of 97-88. The Crusaders will end the year at home with two games against Wisconsin teams. Valparaiso will battle Milwaukee on Thursday before squaring off against Green Bay on Saturday.

Wright State Raiders (6-8): The Raiders hosted Central Michigan last Thursday. The Raiders headed into the locker room at halftime with a nine-point lead and defeated the Chippewas by a score of 60-42. Junior guard Julius Mays’ 28 points and game-winning basket earlier in the month against Nevada helped him earn Co-Horizon League Player of the Week honors. The Raiders will end the year with a trip to Chicago for two games against Horizon League conference opponents. Wright State will play Loyola on Thursday before matching up against UIC on New Year’s Eve.

Youngstown State Penguins (6-6): The Penguins’ losing streak extended to four games with a 59-56 loss at home to the Robert Morris Colonials. Although the Penguins led by one point at halftime and led for most of the second half, a turnover by Kendrick Perry with the score tied 56-56 gave the Colonials one last chance to win the game. Coron Williams proceeded to nail a 3-point basket to secure the win for Robert Morris. Youngstown State will look to end its losing streak when they travel to Cleveland State on New Year’s Eve for a road contest against the Vikings.

Around The Horizon League: Week 6

by - Published December 22, 2011 in Conference Notes
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Butler Bulldogs (5-7): Butler began the week with a matchup against the Purdue Boilermakers at Conseco Fieldhouse. Having struggled in the early part of the season, the Bulldogs probably weren’t given much of a chance by most observers against the Boilermakers. Summing up some of the magic that has helped the team advance to two straight NCAA Tournament Championship Games, the Bulldogs upset the Boilermakers by a score of 67-65 when Andrew Smith tipped in a missed shot from freshman Roosevelt Jones.  Three days later, the Bulldogs headed west to battle Gonzaga in a matchup of mid-major powers. Although sophomore Erik Fromm scored a career-best 16 points in his first career start, Butler lost to Gonzaga by a score of 71-55. The Bulldogs will remain on the road and square off against the Stanford Cardinal on Thursday.

Cleveland State Vikings (10-2): After dedicating a week to final exams, the Vikings returned to action on Monday on the road against South Florida. Despite outrebounding South Florida by a 37-34 margin, the Vikings were plagued by poor shooting and foul trouble and lost their first road game of the season by a score of 70-55. Senior D’Aundray Brown currently leads the Horizon League with 3.0 steals per game. Cleveland State will return to action at home on Thursday night against the Sam Houston State Bearkats.

Detroit Titans (5-8): After a multi-day break dedicated to final exams, the Titans returned to action against the nationally ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Titans fought hard to overcome a second-half deficit that stretched to 15 points at one point in the game and even managed to tie the game with less than three minutes left in the game, but the Titans ultimately fell short by a score of 80-75. Although he did not return to the starting lineup, Eli Holman was very impressive in 17 minutes of action, scoring 12 points and pulling down 9 rebounds. Detroit is unique in the fact that they lead the Horizon League in scoring as well as points given up per game, and the return of Holman should help address the Titans’ defensive struggles. The Titans will return to action on Thursday night against Alabama State.

Green Bay Phoenix (5-6): During the past week, the Phoenix exemplified the meaning of the term “student-athlete” as they did not play a single game and focused on final exams. Alec Brown ranks second in the Horizon League in rebounds per game and blocked shots per game. The Phoenix will return to action on Thursday night at home against Idaho.

Loyola Ramblers (4-7): The Ramblers racked up two wins over the past week. On Saturday, Loyola used double-doubles by standouts Ben Averkamp and Walt Gibler to defeat Chicago State by a score of 64-49. Two days later, Loyola defeated Division II Rockhurst by a score of 69-46. Paced by another strong performance from Averkamp, the Rambers earned their third straight victory in a game that marked the return of the injury-plagued Jordan Hicks. The Rambers will attempt to secure their fourth straight victory when they head to New York to battle Canisus on Thursday.

Milwaukee Panthers (9-3): The Panthers are another team that was relatively idle over the past week. In their only game of the week, the Panthers used 15 3-pointers to dominate the visiting Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks by a score of 86-50. In a major intrastate battle, the Panthers will head over to Marquette’s campus to battle the nationally ranked Golden Eagles on Thursday night. The Panthers have limited opponents to a Horizon League-leading 58 points per game, and they will need to utilize their tough defense in order to keep pace with Marquette.

UIC Flames (4-7): Despite a career-best 20 points from junior guard Daniel Barnes, the Flames lost to Central Michigan by a score of 70-67 after they allowed a lead to slip away in the final minute. However, UIC found itself on the winning end of a close game three nights later. UIC edged Western Illinois at home by a score of 57-56. Gary Talton’s layup with 3.2 left in the game helped the Flames earn their fourth win of the season. Hayden Humes leads the Horizon League in 3-point percentage, nailing 50% of his shots. The Flames will battle the Dayton Flyers on the road on Friday night.

Valparaiso Crusaders (8-4): The Crusaders lost a close game at home to Oakland University by a score of 82-80. Oakland’s Reggie Hamilton, who led all scorers with 41 points, nailed a jumper to win the game. Three days later, Valparaiso used two big runs to defeat Northern Illinois by a score of 59-48. Kevin Van Wijk currently leads the Horizon League in field goal percentage and also ranks seventh in the Horizon League in points per game, averaging 14.4 points per contest. The Crusaders will return to action on Friday against IUPUI.

Wright State Raiders (5-8): Wright State’s youth and a tough non-conference schedule have combined to lead to a slow start to the season for the Raiders. However, if the Raiders continue to improve throughout the course of the season, they could be a tough opponent in the Horizon League Tournament. Wright State squared off at home against the Ohio University Bobcats. Fueled by a stellar shooting performance, the Bobcats knocked off the Raiders by a score of 82-54. However, Wright State hung on in overtime to defeat Idaho by a score of 80-78. Julius Mays’ 3-pointer in overtime helped propel the Raiders to their fifth victory of the season. Wright State will return to action on Thursday night against Central Michigan.

Youngstown State Penguins (6-5): Youngstown State’s turnaround hit a bit of a rough patch over the past week. On Saturday, the Penguins traveled across Ohio to battle the Toledo Rockets. Plagued by poor play in the first half, the Penguins fell behind early in the game and were down by as many as 17 points before rallying in the second half. However, the Penguins could never retake the lead and wound up losing by a score of 86-77. Two days later, the Penguins battled another in-state opponent when they squared off against the Akron Zips. Akron is a talented team, and the Penguins made matters worse for themselves by committing 21 turnovers—their highest total of the season. Needless to say, the turnovers led to a Penguins loss, and the Zips defeated the Penguins by a score of 88-62. The Penguins will attempt to end their losing streak on Thursday when they host Robert Morris.

Around The Horizon League: Weeks 4-5

by - Published December 14, 2011 in Conference Notes
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Butler Bulldogs (4-6): Butler has continued to struggle in the early stages of the 2011-12 college basketball season. However, don’t start writing Butler’s obituary just yet. Horizon League fans shouldn’t forget that Butler began last season slowly and bottomed out with a loss to Youngstown State before turning their season around and not losing again until the NCAA Tournament final against Connecticut. The Bulldogs dropped their Horizon League opener to Valparaiso in overtime by a score of 77-71. Four days later, the Bulldogs lost at home to the nationally ranked Xavier Musketeers by a score of 73-61. On Saturday, Butler lost a road game against Ball State by a score of 58-55 in a game in which a furious second-half comeback fell short. The Bulldogs will face Purdue on Saturday in a neutral-site game at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Cleveland State Vikings (10-1): Cleveland State has continued their strong start to the season with a series of close victories. The Vikings eked out a 45-43 victory over Wright State when senior D’Aundray Brown tipped in a shot at the buzzer. Two days later, Cleveland State hung tough in the second half and pulled out a 66-61 victory on the road over the Detroit Titans. The Vikings ended their long streak of road games with a matchup in Pittsburgh against Robert Morris. Although the Colonials significantly cut into the Vikings’ second-half lead, Cleveland State used solid free-throw shooting to clinch a 62-58 victory. The Vikings finally returned home last Saturday to face the Akron Zips. Despite once again losing a second-half lead, the Vikings escaped with a 69-66 victory on a Jeremy Montgomery 3-pointer in the final seconds. Cleveland State will spend this week taking final exams before taking their talents to South Florida for a road matchup next Monday.

Detroit Titans (5-7): The Titans began Horizon League play with a hard-fought 64-61 loss to the Youngstown State Penguins. Cleveland State kept the Titans winless in conference play with a 66-61 defeat two days later. The Titans rebounded with a nationally televised 69-63 win against St. John’s on the night when the basketball court at Calihan Hall was named “Dick Vitale Court”. Although he is now best known as one of the best-known commentators in sports, Vitale previously coached the Detroit Titans during the 1970’s. The Titans continued their winning ways against Western Michigan with a 92-81 triumph that marked the return of talented center Eli Holman. After being placed on a leave of absence at the start of the season following an offseason assault charge, Holman returned to action and scored 21 points, pulled down 7 boards, and blocked 4 shots in only 19 minutes of action. Poor shooting at the outset doomed the Titans in their next contest against the Alabama Crimson Tide, and the Titans lost 62-54. The Titans will spend the week concentrating on finals before returning to action against Mississippi State on Saturday.

Green Bay Phoenix (5-6): The Phoenix began Horizon League play with a 71-68 victory against the UIC Flames. Two days later, the Phoenix used tough defense to knock off the Loyola Ramblers by a score of 57-47. The Phoenix suffered a 70-42  defeat against the nationally-ranked Wisconsin Badgers in a game in which the Phoenix were only able to seriously challenge the Badgers during the opening 10 minutes. Facing another nationally-ranked opponent three days later, the Phoenix lost to the Marquette Golden Eagles by a score of 79-61 despite a career-best night from sophomore Alec Brown, who scored 22 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. The Phoenix rebounded from these resounding losses with a 69-61 victory over Division II Michigan Tech. After having over a week off to take final exams, the Phoenix will square off against Idaho at home on December 22nd.

Loyola Ramblers (2-7): The Ramblers began Horizon League conference play with a 59-41 loss to the talented Milwaukee Panthers. Two days later, the Ramblers lost to another Wisconsin team as they lost to the Green Bay Phoenix by a score of 57-47. Although the Ramblers narrowed Green Bay’s sizable second-half lead down to seven points with 52 seconds left in the game, the Ramblers could pull no closer as they dropped their second straight conference matchup. Despite a career-high 29 points from senior Walt Gibler, the Ramblers then lost to the DePaul Blue Demons four days later in a game in which the Ramblers trailed by as much as 33 points. The Ramblers finally secured their second win of the season three days later with a 57-55 victory over the Toledo Rockets when junior Ben Averkamp nailed a game-winning jump shot. The Ramblers’ victory is even more notable in light of the fact that they were without Gibler and Joe Crisman, two of their key players. Loyola will attempt to obtain their third win of the season at home against Chicago State on Saturday.

Milwaukee Panthers (8-2): Sparked by the return of talented senior forward Tony Meier, the Panthers began Horizon League conference play with a 59-41 triumph over the Loyola Ramblers that marked the return of talented guard Tony Meier. Two days later, the Panthers needed overtime in order to obtain their second straight victory in Horizon League conference play, a 73-71 victory over the UIC Flames. Playing their third game in six days, the Panthers used a barrage of 3-point shooting to knock off the DePaul Blue Demons by a score of 87-76. The Panthers suffered their first loss of the season to Northern Iowa by a score of 67-51. Three days later, the Panthers squared off against the nationally-ranked Wisconsin Badgers at home. Ja’Rob McCallum and Kyle Kelm, two Panther starters, missed the game due to injury. However, the Panthers fought hard and rallied in the second half behind Meier. Nevertheless, the Panthers fell short by a score of 60-54. The Panthers will return to action on the road on Saturday against Nebraska-Omaha.

UIC Flames (3-6): The Flames kicked off Horizon League conference play with a road matchup against the Green Bay Phoenix. Daniel Barnes was stripped of the ball by the Phoenix’s Kam Cerroni with five seconds left and the Phoenix escaped with a 71-68 victory over the visiting Flames. The Flames dropped another tough game two days later to the Milwaukee Panthers, losing by a score of 73-71 after Gary Talton missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Flames notched their third win of the season against Northern Illinois by a score of 62-55. Three days later, the Flames shot poorly and fell victim to the Oregon State Beavers by a score of 95-53. The Flames will return to action on Friday night against Central Michigan.

Valparaiso Crusaders (7-3): The Crusaders kicked off Horizon League conference play in dramatic fashion with a 77-71 overtime victory over the defending Horizon League Tournament champion Butler Bulldogs. Valparaiso could have won the game in regulation, but a potential game-winning 3-pointer from Matt Kenney came after the buzzer. Four days later, the Crusaders’ second-half rally against the IPFW Mastadons came up short as they lost by a score of 85-76. The Crusaders returned to their winning ways with a 82-79 triumph at home against the Bowling Green Falcons in a game that was hotly contested for much of the second half. Valparaiso will return to action on Saturday at home against Oakland University.

Wright State Raiders (4-7): One of the youngest teams in the Horizon League, Wright State has struggled in the early part of the 2011-12 college basketball season. The Raiders dropped their Horizon League opener in heartbreaking fashion to the Cleveland State Vikings by a score of 45-43. However, the Raiders rebounded in impressive style two days later with an impressive 63-62 victory over the visiting Youngstown State Penguins in a closely fought contest. Armond Battle’s free throw with 1.4 seconds remaining in the game gave the Raiders the lead, and the Penguins’ Damian Eargle missed a shot as time ran out that would have given the Penguins a road victory. However, the Raiders proceeded to lose on the road to Air Force by a score of 55-34. Returning home to Ohio, the Raiders squared off against neighboring Miami of Ohio and defeated the RedHawks by a score of 51-49. The Raiders faced another southern Ohio team on Wednesday as they battled the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Bearcats defeated the Raiders by a score of 78-58 in a game in which the Raiders only led once. Wright State will return to action on Saturday against Ohio University.

Youngstown State Penguins (6-3): Paced by a career-best 24 points from senior DuShawn Brooks, Youngstown State won its Horizon League conference opener with a 64-61 victory on the road over the Detroit Titans. The Penguins were then shocked on the road by the struggling Wright State Raiders by a score of 63-62. Three days later, the Penguins used a strong performance on defense to dominate Division III Fredonia State by a score of 69-35. The Penguins faced another New York team four days later when they traveled to Buffalo to face the Buffalo Bulls. Despite once again sinking a school-record 14 3-pointers, the Penguins lost to the Bulls by a score of 80-72. The Penguins will return to action on Saturday when they travel across Ohio to face the Toledo Rockets.

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