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December 10, 2002

USI men’s basketball rolls the dice in High Desert Classic

The University of Southern Indiana men’s basketball team will roll the dice against two non-conference NCAA Division II foes at the High Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nevada, this weekend. The Screaming Eagles will play Western Washington University Saturday, December 14, and Washburn University Sunday, December 15.

USI boosted its record to 4-2 overall last week, defeating the University of Indianapolis, 82-78, and Saint Joseph’s College, 100-83, at the Physical Activities Center. Senior forward Diond’re Givens (Mt. Vernon, Indiana) led the Eagles last week, averaging 20.5 points.

For the season, Givens leads the Eagles with a 16.8 points per game average that ranks fourth in the GLVC. Sophomore guard Cris Brunson (Evansville, Indiana) joins Givens in the GLVC’s top 10 with 13.8 points per contest.

USI’s first opponent in Las Vegas will be Western Washington. The Vikings are 5-2 this season after having their four-game winning streak stopped by Central Washington University, 82-61, last Saturday.

Senior center Mike Palm leads the Vikings with 17.1 points and 9.4 rebounds an outing. The 6’10” post player also is shooting 60.0 percent from the field (45-75) and 84.8 percent from the line (28-33).

WWU junior guard Stefan Dickason follows Palm in the scoring column with 13.1 points, while freshman guard Grant Dykstra is posting 12.1 points per game.

The game on Saturday will be the first meeting between USI and WWU.

The Eagles will conclude their visit to the desert against Washburn on Sunday.

Washburn is 5-1 this year and has won its last two. The Ichabods defeated Newman University, 87-86, on the strength of 21 points and seven rebounds by senior forward Ryan Murphy.

Murphy is the Ichabods’ season leader with 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. He is followed by senior forward Manny Clifton, who is posting 10.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per outing.

Sunday’s contest will be a rematch of 1995 USI-Washburn overtime game in the High Desert Classic. The Eagles trailed the Ichabods by as many as 17 points in the second half and was down by seven points with 45 seconds to play, before coming away with the 107-103 overtime victory.

In addition to trailing most of the game, the Eagles lost six of its 11 players to fouls and two of its final five players finished the game with four fouls.

The win over Washburn began the USI run to the NCAA Division II Championship. The 2-0 performance in the desert propelled the Eagles onto a 24-2 run to Louisville and the championship.

USI is 5-1 in three trips to Las Vegas and the High Desert Classic.

Fans unable to make the trip to Las Vegas for the games will be able to catch the action on WGBF AM1280. Game time Saturday is 7 p.m. (CT), while Sunday is at 4:30 p.m. (CT).

Ray Simmons, USI Sports Information

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