Coming off an upsetting game at home against McKendree, the Stars knew they would have to step up their game last Tuesday night against a tough Brescia Bearcats, who beat UIS earlier in the year.
In an attempt to make sure that they didn’t lose again to the Bearcats, the Stars jumped out early taking a lead 22-7, and showing why they are on top of their conference and ranked No. 22 in the NAIA polls. Despite shooting fairly well, the emphasis of the night was on the Stars’ defense, which was solid enough to make the Bearcats commit nine turnovers in the first half.
Unfortunately, the Bearcats clawed their way back into the game by out-shooting UIS in every category in the second half. With the game on the line, UIS struggled from the free-throw line, allowing Brescia the opportunity to hit a few clutch shots to send the game to overtime.
Once again in overtime, UIS jumped out to an early lead determined not to let this game slip through their hands. Even though they jumped ahead quickly, clutch shooting from the Bearcats helped bring the game back to within reach, in which the Stars then shot themselves in the foot as they missed key lay-ups and free throws forcing the game to go into double over-time.
The second overtime would be nothing like the first, as seniors Curtis Collins and Mike Griffin showed their toughness by hitting big shots when the game was on the line. With the game still hanging in balance, junior Nick Malone picked up a few huge rebounds and was sent to the line to help seal the deal for the Stars 92-82. Collins led the team with an outstanding 32 points and 14 rebounds followed by freshman Kelvin Johnson’s 15 points and six assists.
After the hard-fought game on Tuesday, UIS traveled to Bourbonnais to take on Olivet Nazarene. Even though the Stars clearly showed that they still had enough left over in the tank, Olivet simply shot better than the Stars, and they couldn’t find it in them to gather a few more points.
Going into the game the team knew it would take a lot to beat Olivet as they shared similar records and are considered two of the tougher teams in the nation. Overall the game seemed to go back and forth scoring wise, with great defense being played all around, but when forced into overtime, both teams’ defenses stepped up even more, allowing UIS to only score two points, making the final score 76-70. Once again Johnson and Collins led the team with 16 and 13 points apiece.
Hoping to rebound from the overtime loss on Thursday, the Stars knew that traveling to Hannibal, Mo., to take on the Hannibal-LaGrange wouldn’t be easy. The Stars got off to a slow start, allowing the Trojans to take the lead, but with stellar defense and good shot selection, UIS battled back into the game going in to the locker room behind 31-30.
The Stars controlled the second half as they shot 50 percent from the field and took a lead as big as nine at one point. However, the Trojans cut down the lead and made it a close game with minutes to spare. Learning from the past two games, the Stars knew that clutch shooting from the free throw line would get them the win. And so it did, as the game ended in a free throw contest with UIS winning 61-57 with Collins leading the way with 15 points followed by freshman Rick McDonald with 11.
After the game, senior team leader Antonio Puckett commented about on the win, “Tonight’s win was an overall team effort. We started off slow but the team really came together and helped push one another and it ended up being just the thing we needed.”
The next few games will be tough as the next three are all in conference games and on the road. “We know these next few games are important to us and we are also aware that we are having a tough time on the road this year. We just have to stay focused and bring the same energy that we bring to the games at home,” said Puckett. The next game is tomorrow in St. Louis against Missouri Baptist, a team in which the Stars hold a two game lead over right now.
Big win at home, but trouble on the road
Mike Fitzpatrick - Sports Reporter
Last Tuesday was a big night for basketball here at UIS, as both the men’s team and women’s team had home games against tough opponents.
Prior to this game, the women were on a seven-game losing streak, what better way to break the recent unfortunate trend at home. In the first half of play, both the Stars and Harris Stowe State looked very sloppy with UIS shooting a miserable 26.5 percent from the field and a 57.1 percent from the free throw line. Fortunately Harris Stowe struggled just as much shooting 20 percent from the field and 40 percent from the free throw line.
Although the shooting wasn’t there, both teams seemed to control the ball very well with the Stars committing only four turnovers which might have been part of the reason they entered the locker room with a 23-17 lead.
Going into the second half, the Stars knew they had to shoot better and control the game and clock if they wanted to keep the lead. The game began to change pace at this point as both teams really stepped up their play in terms of shooting. However, despite being outshot from the field, UIS managed to minimize their turnovers while Harris Stowe committed 11 in the second half alone.
In the world of sports, defense usually translates into one of two things, championships or a win to say the least. On Tuesday night it would be the latter as UIS managed to squeak by Harris Stowe 62-57. The win wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for clutch free throws made by UIS with under a minute to play raising their free throw shooting percentage 70 percent. Once again, junior Dominique Moses led the team with 16 points and 15 rebounds making this her eighth double-double of the season, followed by sophomore Latrice Nettles’s own double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds.
After the win on Tuesday, the women hit the road early Saturday morning for a game in Hannibal, Mo., taking on the Hannibal-LaGrange Trojans. Hoping to pick up another win, the Stars went into the game with confidence and momentum.
However, when they stepped on the court the game went a little differently then planned. Getting off to a slow start and allowing the Trojans to jump ahead early really hurt the Stars as they went into the half losing 39-27. To make things even worse was the fact that their shooting was fairly decent with 45 percent from the field, but in the world of basketball we know a team can have the best shooting percentage in the league, but if they commit too many turnovers, then there is no way to win the game. This was the case for the Stars as they turned the ball over 12 times in the first half alone.
Knowing that the game was still in reach, the Stars came out playing hard using good defense to get the Trojans to turn the ball over. It just wasn’t the Stars night though, as when they were playing good defense, they were shooting poorly, and vice versa. A win against the Trojans would call for both, and unfortunately being outshot, starting slowly, and good clock control was too much for UIS to handle. The Stars ended up losing 73-57 with Tamika Reeves and Miesha Hill leading the scoring attack with 21 and 13 respectively.
The Heat is on in the upcoming months of sports
Mark Brockett- Sports Reporter
With so much upon us in regards to the sports world, this is a nice time to take a look at what is to be in the upcoming months.
NCAA MARCH MADNESS: It’s definitely that time of year again. So many of us look forward to the conference tournaments and the National tournament itself so we can hope to improve on our brackets from previous years that we ended up torching after the first two days. This year in college basketball is so unique in that it really is a wide open race for the championship. There really isn’t that dominant team who will steamroll through everyone all the way to the Final Four. Of course, we have Duke who is always a team to beat and Connecticut, a team under head coach Jim Calhoun that always plays its best ball late in the year. But, after that, the field is wide open with teams from such power conferences as the Big East and Big Ten that have their squads beating each other up down the stretch. West Virginia is a team to watch for with its three point shooting ability and its senior leadership from guys like Kevinn Pittsnogle. Villanova is strong again and will look to take control of the conference late in the conference season and the conference tournament.
In the Big Ten, Iowa and Ohio State are the surprise teams on top with teams like Indiana, Michigan State, and our beloved Fighting Illini struggling. The Buckeyes look to be the favorite with their defensive presence with a guy like Terrence Dials who is a force in the paint. Whoever comes out on top in these two conferences will most certainly have earned it.
A final team to look at is the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Led by player of the year candidate Adam Morrison, the “Zags” find themselves in a familiar situation as the previous two years in which they played an unbelievable non-conference schedule and are dominating their conference opponents in the WAC. But, will the former Cinderella darlings once again be knocked off early in the tournament or will they finally make their run towards the Final Four, something that has eluded them since they have been in the national spotlight. The heat is definitely on for all of college basketball and will be sweltering come March.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: Looking past what is becoming a less than stellar idea in the World Baseball Classic, Spring Training is upon us and the new season of Major League Baseball will soon be here. The Chicago White Sox are the team to beat this year as the defending World Series Champions, in case anyone forgot about it with all the talk about the Yankees and the Red Sox. Jim Thome should have a comeback caliber year for the South Siders and the pitching staff is still intact with the resigning of John Garland in the off season.
Teams like the aforementioned Yankees and Red Sox made their usual top of the line free agent signings in the off season and stole the headlines yet again. The Red Sox added guys like starting pitcher Josh Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell from the Marlins who have decided to take a season off if you were to look at their current roster. The Yankees signed previously hated Johnny Damon from Boston who now will don the Pin Stripes instead of the caveman beard. Both teams have questions in starting pitching as a lot of their talent is old and breaking down (see Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling).
In the National League, the Mets have made some moves to put them as high favorites but it seems as if we have seen this all before. If anyone can remember Mo Vaughn’s stint as a Met, you know what I am talking about. The Cardinals will have their core players back and will look to dominate once again. But, is time running out on this team to win a World Series? One has to scratch their head as to why they haven’t done so the last two years. Injuries to players like third baseman Scott Rolen certainly didn’t help matters but losing to division rival Houston last year shouldn’t have happened. If you need proof of that, look at what happened in the World Series as the Astros were overmatched by a more polished White Sox team. The Atlanta Braves, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Chicago Cubs all look to make moves towards the ultimate prize but still have a lot of work to do in getting towards the right direction as a team. The Braves can’t just settle for the Division title any longer. The Dodgers need to find more consistency throughout the year and avoid key injuries. The Cubs, well, we all know that they have some inner demons (about 98 years worth). With Juan Pierre out in centerfield and first baseman Derrek Lee as the staple of the team’s offense and defense, the loveable losers need only to keep guys like Mark Prior and Carlos Zambrano healthy and in their best condition for the long haul. This, as we all know, is easier said than done for the Cubs
You can feel the heat starting to increase each in every day in our sports world. Take Care and thanks for reading.
Campus Rec Briefs
Intramural Badminton Doubles League Results
Women’s Division: Team H&R is leading the pack with a record of 2-0. Following them with a record of 2-1 is Two Monkeys of Fun who have their only loss because of a forfeit. Currently in third, The Krickets are 1-1 after losing to Two Monkeys of Fun and receiving a win from team N&B that dropped out of the tourney. Finally, the Econazis are 1-2, winning from the forfeit of team N&B and losing from a forfeit and team H&R.
Men’s Division: Team M&V is leading with a record of 3-0. Currently in a tie for second is team R&T and the Kobras, both with a 1-1 record and both receiving their loss from team M&V. Trailing the pack is team UIS Tennis, who currently have a record of 0-3.
Mixed Division: A tie for first is currently the case between team N&E and Tunak Tunak Tun London Dance Squad. Both have a record of 2-0 and received wins for the Flying Cocks and team C&R. The Flying Cocks are currently at 1-2 from beating team What?! which is 0-1. In last place right now is team C&R with a record of 0-2.
Play for all divisions will continue into this week where anything can happen!
Intramural 5x5 Basketball League
Intramural basketball games resume their league play this weekend beginning Friday night at 4:30 p.m. Other games are being played on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Come check out the basketball play and cheer on your favorite team!
How Can I Learn About Campus Rec Sports Activities and Events?
Contact the Campus Recreational Sports Office located in the Fitness Center (SLB 118) at 206-6658; send an e-mail to RecSports@uis.edu; or check out our Web site at www.uis.edu/recsports/.