March 16, 2004
Eagles feeling Elite with last second win,
Brunsonís shot puts USI menís basketball in Elite Eight
ROMEOVILLE, Ill.óJunior guard Cris Brunson (Evansville, Indiana) hit a shot with 10 seconds left to play to lift the third-seeded and No. 13-ranked University of Southern Indiana menís basketball team to a 69-68 victory over Wayne State University in the championship game of the NCAA II Great Lakes Regional Tournament Tuesday night at the Neil Carey Arena.
The Screaming Eagles (26-6) had a 15-point lead with less than 10 minutes to play in the contest, but the eighth-seeded Warriors fought back into the game to forge a 66-66 tie with 42 seconds left in regulation. USI had four turnovers in a span of six possessions to help WSU claw back into the contest.
WSU (19-12) had a chance to take the lead, but a rebound by senior forward Billy Harris (Carbondale, Illinois) and a quick foul put USIís all-time leader in made free throws on the line with a chance to take the lead with 25 seconds to play.
Harris, however, missed the first shot before making the second to give the Eagles a 67-66 lead. Harris finished the contest with 12 points.
The Warriors, to USIís dismay, came right down the court and Kendon Edwards hit a shot with 13 seconds left in the game to give WSU its first lead of the game.
USI, however, would not be denied as the Eagles answered WSUís challenge as Brunson hit a pull-up jumper inside the lane to give USI the 69-68 lead.
WSU had one last chance, but Herb Golidayís shot went astray in the closing seconds and USI senior forward Clarence Chillers (Glendale Heights, Illinois) came down with the rebound to seal the victory and ensure USIís first trip to the NCAA II Elite Eight since 1995, when they took home the schoolís only national championship.
Brunson led the Eagles with 17 points, while junior forward/center Randy Holbrook (St. Louis, Missouri) and senior guard Joe Gordon (Palm Bay, Florida) finished with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Gordon connected on all four of his second-half shots while scoring 10 of his 12 points in the second period.
Both Gordon and Holbrook were selected to the All-Tournament team.
USI jumped out to an 11-point lead late in the first half, but the Warriors scored the last four points of the period to cut the Eagle lead to 33-26 at the break.
The Eagles shot 50 percent in the first half, but were badly out-rebounded by the Warriors in the first 20 minutes. WSU recorded a 20-13 advantage on the boards and took seven more shots than that of USI in the first half.
WSU started the second half with a 5-0 run that cut USIís lead to 33-31 with 18:46 remaining in the contest.
Up 45-42 with less than 12 minutes to go in the game, the Eagles reeled off a 12-0 run that looked to have put the Warriors away.
However, as they had done in the first and second rounds against top-seeded Lewis University and fourth-seeded Michigan Tech University, the Warriors fought back.
In less than two minutes WSU was able to cut USIís lead to seven points with 6:14 remaining in the game. The Warriors then scored eight straight points in a little over a minute to tie the contest at 66 with 1:24 left to play.
WSU was led by Edwardsís game-high 23 points and Kendall LeSureís 14 points. Edwards, who earned All-Tournament honors, also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds in the loosing effort. Michigan Techís Josh Buettner also earned All-Tournament honors.
The Eagles will play Northwest Missouri State University (29-4), Wednesday, March 24, in the first round of the NCAA II Elite Eight. Tip-off time is to be announced. NWMSU defeated Drury University, 62-59, in the South Central Region Championship game.
NCAA II Great Lakes Region All-Tournament Team
Cris Brunson, USI (MVP)
Randy Holbrook, USI
Joe Gordon, USI
Kendon Edwards, Wayne State
Josh Buettner, Michigan Tech
USI Sports Information