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March 03, 2009

USI plays Lewis in the first round of GLVC Tournament
Eagles are hosting tournament for the first time

USI Game Notes; NABC Division II Top 25

EVANSVILLE, Ind. The University of Southern Indiana men's basketball team begins 2009 post-season play by hosting the GLVC Tournament this weekend. USI is the top seed as the GLVC West Division champion and is scheduled to play Lewis University, the fourth seed from the East Division, Friday at 6 p.m.

The Screaming Eagles, who rose to 13th in the latest NABC/Division II Top 25, are hosting the men's league tournament for the first times since the GLVC started the post-season playoff in 1998. Kentucky Wesleyan hosted the first tournament before it was played at Roberts Stadium between 1999 and 2007. Drury University hosted the tournament last season.

USI (25-5, 14-3 GLVC) won the West Division championship last weekend with two-straight road wins, defeating Drury University, 76-69, and Rockhurst University, 76-56. The Eagles have been on a roll the last month, winning its last four games and 10 of the last 11.

The Eagles also reached the 25-win plateau for the sixth time in seven seasons with the win over Rockhurst. USI, which has attained at least 20-wins 16 times in the last 17 seasons, now takes aim at 27-or-more victories for the fifth time in six seasons. USI has won at least 25 games 13 times in the last 17 seasons.

Leading the way for the Eagles is junior guard Jamar Smith (Peoria, Illinois), who is averaging a team-best 18.6 points per game and has been named the GLVC Player of the Week each of the last two weeks. Smith has been red hot the last six games, averaging 23.2 points per game and four three-point field goals per contest.

USI fans also could see Head Coach Rick Herdes reach the 200-win mark at the tournament this weekend. Herdes, who is 198-57 (.776) in his eight seasons at the helm, ranks second only to former Head Coach Bruce Pearl on the all-time USI coaching list.

The Flyers of Lewis (16-11, 10-8 GLVC) enter the tournament after splitting their last two conference games last week to end the regular season. Lewis is led by senior guard Brandon Dagans, who leads the team and ranks third in the GLVC with 19.3 points per game.

USI leads the all-time series with Lewis, 33-22, after defeating the Flyers, 73-67, in Romeoville, Illinois, back in December. The Eagles were led by the 17-point effort of junior guard Marvin Gray (Freeport, Bahamas), while senior forward Jason Genova topped the scoring column for the Flyers with 15 points.

In the top half of the bracket on Friday, the East Division champion Northern Kentucky University will play the fourth-seed from the West Division Saint Joseph's College at noon. The second game on Friday has the second seed from the West, Rockhurst, against the third seed from the East, Kentucky Wesleyan, at 2:30 p.m.

The first day of action finishes with the second seed from the East, Bellarmine University, playing the third seed from the West, Quincy University, at 8:30 p.m.

The winners match-up in the semifinals Saturday at 5:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The championship game is slated for Sunday at 2 p.m.

Chairback seats are $12 for a single session, while tournament packages (four sessions) are $40. Bench tickets are $10 per session with tournament packages (four sessions) for $30. The Ticket Office will be open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day.

Ray Simmons, USI Sports Information

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