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March 06, 2009

Eagles end Lewis's upset bid,
Move on to GLVC semifinals

at #13 Southern Indiana (26-5): 67
Lewis (16-12): 61
Box Score

EVANSVILLE, Ind.Trailing by a point with less than seven minutes to play in the game, the No. 13 University of Southern Indiana men's basketball team turned to its inside-outside game to battle its way to a hard-fought 67-61 victory over Lewis University in the first round of the GLVC Tournament Friday evening at the Physical Activities Center.

The Screaming Eagles (26-5), who faced an 11-point deficit before going on a 14-2 run to end the first period and take a slim 26-25 advantage heading into the break, controlled much of the second half.

USI used a 15-7 run to open its largest lead of the contest (41-32) five minutes into the final period, but could not shake the visiting Flyers as Lewis battled its way back into the game.

The Flyers (16-12) used a pair of three-pointers by senior guard Brandon Dagans to pull themselves into a 50-50 stalemate; then got a free throw by freshman guard Chris McClellan to take their first lead since late in the opening frame.

Brandon Russ

USI, however, came right back as junior forward Brandon Russ (Cincinnati, Ohio) drained a pair of free throws to give the Eagles the lead with six minutes to play.

Jamar Smith

Junior guards Jamar Smith (Peoria, Illinois) and Marvin Gray (Freeport, Bahamas) followed with a pair of long-range shots to extend USI's advantage to seven points with just under five minutes to play in the contest.

Lewis closed the gap to a bucket on two occasions in the final two minutes, but field goals by Smith and Russ kept the Eagles a step ahead of the Flyers.

USI finished game the by hitting three of their last four free throw attempts to end Lewis's upset bid and advance to the semifinals.

Smith led the Eagles with a team-high 18 points, while Gray added 15 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Russ chipped in 13 points, while junior forward Brandon Carr (Baltimore, Maryland) finished with 10 points, nine rebounds, five steals, and a pair of blocks.

Lewis got a game-high 23 points from Dagans and 18 points from senior forward Jason Genova.

USI, which has won four straight conference tournament games dating back to the 2007 GLVC Tournament, plays the winner of the Bellarmine University-Quincy University game.

The Eagles also will be looking to give Head Coach Rick Herdes his 200th career victory when they take the court Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the PAC.

Dan McDonnell,
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