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December 14, 2002

Second half run pushes Eagles past Western Washington

University of Southern Indiana (5-2): 81
Western Washington University (5-3): 72

The eighth-ranked University of Southern Indiana men’s basketball team used a 28-2 run at the start of the second half to push past Western Washington University, 81-72, Saturday evening at the High Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Screaming Eagles improve to 5-2 on the season while the Vikings fall to 5-3.

After struggling for a better part of the first half, the Eagles found themselves trailing by nine as they headed into the break. USI shot just 1-of-8 from behind the arc and was pounded on the boards in the first half as it trailed 40-31.

“We got good looks in the first half, but we did not make shots,” USI head coach Rick Herdes explained in his post-game interview on WGBF AM 1280. “When you don’t make shots and you don’t rebound, you get into trouble against a good team like this.”

However, the Eagles turned their fortunes around in the second half as they shot 56.5 percent from the floor, including 5-of-7 from behind the three-point line.

“I thought pressure was the difference,” Herdes said. “It was a situation where we pressed and ran against them and made very good decisions.”

After producing just four points in the first half, USI’s guards went for 33 points in the second period to give the Eagles a shot in the arm. Sophomore guard Cris Brunson (Evansville, Indiana) scored 20 of his team-high 22 points in the second frame, including a pair of threes during USI’s run.

Senior point guard David Ragland’s (Evansville, Indiana) three-pointer, with 16 minutes to go in the contest, gave USI its first lead (45-44) since leading 9-8 at the 15:15 mark of the first-half.

USI also rebounded better in the second half, turning around a 24-18 first half-rebounding deficit into a 22-16 advantage in the second period. Junior forward/center Reque Newsome (St. Petersburg, Florida) led the Eagles underneath with eight rebounds.

Senior forward Diond’re Givens (Mt. Vernon, Indiana) kept the Eagles within striking distance in the first half. Givens rang up 14 of his 18 points in the first stanza.

“This team has got to learn how to play 40 minutes of basketball,” Herdes said. “If we played 40 minutes of solid basketball, I think we would be pretty good.”

The Eagles will need 40 minutes of good basketball Sunday afternoon as they play 15th-ranked Washburn University to wrap up the High Desert Classic. Tip-off is slated for 4:30 p.m. (CST).

Washburn (6-1) is coming off an 82-74 win against Central Oklahoma. “I think they (Washburn) are a good basketball team,” Herdes said. “I don’t think they have tremendous size, but they are a smart team and they have good shooters.”

Dan McDonnell,
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