February 22, 2005
USI hopes to finish season with sweep
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The 5th-ranked University of Southern Indiana men’s basketball team hopes to complete a sweep of four straight on the road and win the GLVC regular season championship when it plays at Kentucky Wesleyan College Thursday and Bellarmine University Saturday. Start time at KWC in Owensboro, Kentucky, is 7:30 p.m., while tip-off at Bellarmine in Louisville, Kentucky, is 7 p.m. (CT).
The Screaming Eagles (21-4, 16-2 GLVC) enter this week’s action knowing they will be playing fired up opponents with KWC and Bellarmine conducting Senior Night activities prior to each game. After this week’s games, USI will have finished the season by playing in three-straight opponent Senior Nights.
While the opponents will be fired up, USI starts the week as one of the hottest teams in Division II basketball. The Eagles, who moved from ninth to fifth in the national poll, have won 11 straight and 16 of their last 17 games. The squad also has won five in a row on the road. A victory in either game by USI or a loss by Southern Illinois University Edwardsville gives the Eagles the GLVC title outright.
The key to USI’s success has been the play of the three seniors – forward/center Randy Holbrook (St. Louis, Missouri), center Reque Newsome (St. Petersburg, Florida), and guard Cris Brunson (Evansville, Indiana).
Holbrook has been dominating all season for the Eagles. He leads the team with 15.9 ppg, 16.8 ppg during the last 17 games. The senior also ranks second on team in rebounding with 6.4 rpg.
Brunson reemerged as one of the Eagles top scoring threats after suffering through a mid-season slump. The USI all-time leader in three-point field goals made has boosted his scoring average to 11.1 ppg after posting 14.7 ppg during the Eagles’ 11-game winning streak.
Newsome has started the last 10 games for the Eagles and has recorded 11 of his team-best 26 blocks during this stretch. He also is averaging 7.3 ppg and ranks third on the team with 4.4 rpg.
Since KWC is not eligible for the GLVC Tournament, USI is looking for its first season sweep of the Panthers since 1979-80 and its fourth regular season sweep of KWC overall. The Panthers (15-11, 9-10 GLVC) have lost their last two on the road, falling at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, 68-56, and to Quincy University, 71-59.
KWC senior center Franklyn Ferguson leads the Panthers with 16.5 ppg and 7.6 rpg, while junior forward Antonio Bright is second on the team with 16.2 ppg and 6.8 rpg.
KWC leads the all-time series, 43-29, while USI has won four of the last five meetings. The Eagles won the first meeting of the year back in January, 86-64, on the strength of 16 points by Holbrook and 15 points by sophomore forward Geoff Van Winkle (Ferdinand, Indiana). Ferguson led all scorers with a game-high 27 points.
The Knights of Bellarmine (9-16, 4-14 GLVC) begin the week still in the hunt for a berth in the GLVC Tournament. Bellarmine, who will play the University of Missouri-St. Louis Thursday night before hosting the Eagles, has lost its last two and five of the last six.
Bellarmine sophomore guard Marcus Flynn leads the Knights with 16.5 ppg, while sophomore guard Matt Pait is second with 14.6 ppg.
USI tops the all-times series with the Knights, 39-24, and has won 11 of the last 12 meetings. The Eagles had their highest offensive output of the season in the 109-73 victory in January. Holbrook posted a game-high 25 points to lead the Eagles, while junior forward Chris Thompson (Starke, Florida) had a double-double with 18 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. The Knights were led in the game by Pait with 22 points.
NABC/Division II Men's Basketball Poll
(Tuesday, February 22, 2005 Regular season poll #12)
1. Bowie State (8), 22-3
2. Kennesaw State, 22-3