March 12, 2006
Screaming Eagles hold on to advance to regional finals
USI to play SIUE for Great Lakes Regional Championship
RENSSELAER, Ind. – The 17th-ranked University of Southern Indiana men's basketball team held off a second half run by 2nd-ranked Saint Joseph's College to win 81-78 and advance to the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Regional Championship game. USI will play Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Tuesday in Rensselaer, Indiana, for the regional title at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
USI, who raised its record to 27-6 overall, advances to the regional championship game ninth time in the last 14 seasons and has advanced to the NCAA II Elite Eight three times. Saint Joseph's finishes the year 31-3.
The Screaming Eagles led by as many as 11 points twice during the first half went into the locker room with a 44-34 lead at the intermission. They extended the margin to 12 points, 48-36, early in the second half and had an 11-point lead, 66-55, with 8:44 to play in the game.
The Pumas scored 10 unanswered points to cut the Eagles' lead to one, 66-65, and tied the game, 68-68, with 4:05 left to play. Saint Joseph's got out in front by one, 69-68, for its only lead of the second half with 4:05 to play.
USI rebounded with three straight three-point bombs two by junior forward Nick Brook
(Robinson, Illinois) and on by junior guard Melvin Hall
(Evansville, Indiana) – to take back the lead for good at 77-71. Hall and senior guard Danny Gibson
(Madison, Indiana) sealed the victory for USI with four free throws in the final 30 seconds.
With USI up 81-78, Saint Joseph's had one last chance to send the game into overtime, but senior forward Derek Fey missed a three-pointer.
Hall and senior forward Chris Thompson
(Starke, Florida) led five Eagles in double figures with 12 points each. Gibson and Brooks scored 11 points each, while junior forward Goeff Van Winkle
(Ferdinand, Indiana) added 10 points.
Ray Simmons, USI Sports Information