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March 10, 2007

10th-ranked USI advances with close win over Rockhurst
Eagles play Grand Valley State in round of 32

#10 Southern Indiana (29-5): 84
Rockhurst (17-12): 78

Box Score

FINDLAY, OhioŚ The 10th-ranked University of Southern Indiana men's basketball team held off a late surge by Rockhurst University to earn an 84-78 victory in the first round of the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Regional in Findlay, Ohio. USI, which is the second seed, raises its record to 29-5 overall, while Rockhurst, who was the seventh seed, finishes the year 17-12.

Geoff Van Winkle

The key to USI's victory was the free throw shooting down the stretch. The Screaming Eagles sank 13-of-14 from the charity stripe in the final 1:08 to hold off the Hawks, who were seven-of-eight from the field in the final 1:29. Three of the Rockhurst buckets were three-point field goals and cut the USI lead to as few as five points four times in the final minute.

Each time the Hawks would cut the Eagles' lead to the danger point, USI would make it count at the free line. USI senior forward Geoff Van Winkle (Ferdinand, Indiana) and junior guard Kenny Love (South Bend, Indiana) led the way at the line by hitting six-of-six and four-of-four, respectively. The Eagles shot 84.0 percent (21-25) from the line in the second half.

Kenny Love

By contrast, it was poor free throw shooting that kept the Eagles from posting a larger halftime margin. USI went in to the locker room with 36-28 lead after shooting 45.5 percent (5-11) from the charity stripe in the opening stanza.

Van Winkle finished with a team-high and season-best 21 points. USI senior guard Melvin Hall (Evansville, Indiana), who also had a pair of free throws in the final minute, followed Van Winkle with 14 points. Love rounded out the double-figure scorers with 11 points.

The Eagles will play the Lakers of Grand Valley State University in the second round of the regional Sunday at 4 p.m. (CDT). GVSU, which is ranked seventh nationally and is the third seed in the regional, defeated Quincy University in the first game of the day, 85-75, and raised its record to 27-4.

A victory Sunday will give USI its first 30-wins in a season in the history of the program. The 29-wins ties the 2006-07 team with the 1994-95 team that won the NCAA II national championship.

Ray Simmons, USI Sports Information

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