First an update on Tony Bozzella's Lady Gaels. Iona is now 4-1 after defeating Saint Francis on the road 67-49. Anna Ikvovic had 16 points, Kristina Ford added a double double with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Thazina Cook added 13 points for the Lady Gaels. Ford had missed the previous two games due to illness, which included the Lady Gaels first loss, a 66-64 heartbreaker at Wichita State. Ikvovic had 20 points and 9 rebounds in the loss, while Cook and Milica Paligoric each had 11 points. Paligoric a top recruit from Serbia, also had 5 rebounds and 3 steals in her debut. Paligoric had to sit out the first three games due to NCAA rules.
Though it was not mid major college basketball, I was at MSG Wednesday night for the semifinals of the NIT Tipoff Classic. The first game featured Boston College vs Purdue, which was won by the Boilermakers 71-64. Purdue has its entire starting team back from last season's NCAA tournament team. Very solid team which features Robbie Hummel and E'twaun Moore. They were more consistent than BC, who is led by the dynamic Tyrese Rice. Rice seems to like playing in second halves. Against Purdue, Rice scored most of his points late in the second half to make the game close. In a consolation win over UAB yesterday, Rice scored ALL of his 24 points in the second half as the Eagles overcame a ten point deficit. Purdue had four double digit scorers led by Moore's 19.
In the second half of the Wednesday doubleheader, we got treated to a simply awesome performance by perhaps the best collegiate player in the game, Blake Griffin. Griffin scored 32 points and had 15 rebounds as Oklahoma came back from an eleven point deficit to beat UAB 77-67. The game was much closer than the final score indicates. Oklahoma was only up two points with 4 minutes left before making a late run. And had UAB been able to finish several drives to the basket in the first half, they might have won the game. UAB was too quick for Oklahoma in the first half, running out to one time was an eleven point lead before going up five into halftime. UAB forced several Oklahoma turnovers (in fact 17 in the game as opposed to 10 fro the Blazers). As my friends Tieff, Mal and I predicted, shortly into the second half, Sooners coach Jeff Capel went into a zone, which frustrated UAB into some poor shots from the three point arc. UAB shot 8 of 24 from three and 40 percent from the field overall, as opposed to Oklahoma who shot 50 percent from the field.
Oklahoma would eventually win the NIT Tipoff Classic Championship game in an entertaining 87-82 overtime win over Purdue. Griffin had another double double with 18 points and 21 rebounds. But in this game he got a lot more help from his teammates. Willie Warren, a talented freshman guard had 22 points, and Blake's brother Taylor had 19 points. In all five Sooners scored in double figures. Moore led Purdue with 22 points, while Nemanja Calasan added 20.
As for mid major teams, several did well the last few days and several did not. Gonzaga (4-0) looks like a top ten team after getting by Oklahoma State then crushing Maryland in the first two rounds of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando. In the 81-59 beatdown of the Terrapins, Josh Heytvelt was dominant, shooting 9 of 10 from the field with 22 points and 9 rebounds. Austin Daye shot 7 of 11 from the field for 17 points and added 10 rebounds for the Zags. In their 83-71 win over the Cowboys, Micah Downs had 17 points and Jeremy Pargo had 15 points and 7 assists to lead five scorers in double figures for Gonzaga. The Zags will play Tennessee in the championship game tomorrow.
Fellow WCC member St Mary's (4-1) did not do as well in their first game of the 76 Classic in Anaheim. A quicker UTEP team combined with very poor nightsfor both Patti Mills and Diamon Sampson did in the Gaels as they lost 75-62 to the Miners. St Mary's shot 3 of 24 from the three point arc and 36 percent overall in the loss. Simpson was in foul trouble the entire game and only had four field goal attempts and ended up with 9 points. Despite scoring 16 points, Mills shot 5 of 20 from the field, including 0 of 9 from three. Only Omar Samhan had a good game with 20 points and 14 rebounds. The Gaels rebounded the next day with an impressive 79-54 drubbing of Cal State Fullerton, who nearly beat Wake Forest the night before. Mills led four Gaels in double digits with 21 points, while Sampson had 14 points and 17 rebounds. Samhan again had a double double with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Siena (2-2) has had a very rough go in the Old Spice Classic. First, the Saints were only down 17-15 in the first half vs. Tennessee before the Vols went on a 16-0 run to turn the game into a rout. Siena would score the first 11 points in the second half against Tennessee to cut the lead to nine. But the Saints expended so much energy as a result that there was nothing left on their way to a 78-64 loss. Then in their next game, Siena was up 12 in the second half vs. Wichita State before they lost their poise and ended up losing at the end 74-72 to the Shockers. Kenny Hasbrouck missed a shot in the lane at the end that would have tied up the game. Hasbrouck and Edwin Ubiles each had 20 points in the loss to the Shockers. Siena was outrebounded by the Shockers 34-22 which made up for the Saints shooting 52 percent from the field. In the game against the Vols, Siena shot 1 of 15 from three. Alex Franklin led the Saints with 17 points.
The Shockers (3-2), coached by former Winthrop coach Greg Marshall, gave Georgetown all they could in the first game of the Old Spice Classic losing 58-50. David Kyles came off the bench to lead Wichita State with 11 points as the Shockers were held to 27 percent shooting by the Hoyas. Clevin Hannah and Toure' Murry combined for 38 points in the win over the Saints as the Shockers shot 50 percent from the field, including 8 of 17 from three.
Last night, the College of Charleston (5-1) outlasted South Carolina 82-80 in overtime at the First Carolina Arena in Charleston. It was the Cougars first win over South Carolina since 1930 and only their second in twenty nine tries vs the Gamecocks. Tony White Jr hit two free throws with three and a half seconds left in the overtime period to win the game. White, who was badmouthed by several Cougars' fans while I was there for the Charleston Classic two weeks ago, led the way with 22 points. The Cougars again showed balance with all five starters scoring in double figures.
Kent State (3-1) lost in overtime at Illinois (5-0) 69-63 last night. The Golden Flashes were up by five late in the game but the Illini came back with an 11-6 run capped by two free throws by Mike Tisdale to force overtime where Tisdale and the Illini took over. Al Fisher led the Golden Flashes with 18 points and Chris Singletary added 15.
VCU lost in overtime at ECU on Tuesday 93-90. Eric Maynor channeled his inner Antoine Agudio and led the Rams with 35 points on 11 of 20 shooting, including 6 of 12 from three. Larry Sanders added a double double for the Rams with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Maynor and Sanders combined to shoot 18 of 31 but the rest of the Rams shot 14 of 44 from the field. The Pirates shot 50 percent from the field to beat the Rams.
Butler moved to 4-0 after a 57-53 win over Northwestern Wednesday night. Matt Howard led the Bulldogs back from a 12 point deficit (9 at halftime) with 17 points. The Bulldogs shot 17 of 24 from the line as opposed to 3 of 6 for the Wildcats.
Finally, I end my article with my two watches. On Tuesday night, the Chris Gadley Resurrection Watch continues as Gadley led Canisius with 13 points but had NO rebounds in a 67-41 drubbing by Washington State. As for the Tim Crossin Burial Watch, Crossin played ONE minute and hit a three pointer as Towson got drubbed by Villanova 64-47. Towson shot 5 of 27 from the three point arc (so without Crossin it was 4 of 26).