The Daily Herald from Arlington Heights, Illinois on March 9, 2008 · Page 130
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The Daily Herald from Arlington Heights, Illinois · Page 130

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Arlington Heights, Illinois
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Sunday, March 9, 2008
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Page 130
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PAGE ft SECTIONS nAll.YIIERAIJ) SUNDAY, MARCH 9, 2008 Butler completes season sweep of UIC BY WlU. WlLLKMS ta the Dnily llmiM INDIANAPOLIS — The third time wasn't the charm Saturday night for Illinois-Chicago. The Flames lost to No. 14 Butler 6650 in the Horizon League tournament semifinals at Hinkle Fieldhouse. It was the third time Butler (28-3) topped the Flames (18-15) this season. "We played pretty hard (Friday) night and had to come back and play Butler tonight," UIC coach Jimmy Collins said. "That's not icing on anybody's cake. It was a little tough for us coming back." Butler will play Cleveland State (21-1 1) for the Horizon League title Tuesday night. Cleveland State defeated Valparaiso 78-73 in the other semifinal. Butter 66, IHC 50 UIC hung tough with the No. 1 seed in the Horizon League, trailing 25-23 after a 3-pointer by Robert Bush with 2:59 remaining in the half. Butler dominated the rest of the half, outscoring the Flames 9-1 to build a 10-point halftime lead. Butler continued its hot shooting in the second half, building a 24-point lead with 12:03 to play. The Bulldogs were 12-for-27 from 3-point range, two weeks after shooting just 13-for-37 at the UIC Pavilion. "I thought for the first 17 minutes we played quality basketball," Collins said. "Then we let them do some things to take the air out of our sails." UIC was unable to cut the deficit to single digits the rest of the way. The Flames were hampered with their inability to shut down Butler's Mike Green, the Horizon League Player of the Year. Green led all scorers with 19 points while dishing out 7 assists and pulling down 7 rebounds. "He is a tremendous leader for this team," Collins said. "He looks to set up everyone else, and then when he doesn't get that accomplished, he scores. He is a complete guard." UIC's Josh Mayo, a first-team all- Horizon League performer, was held to a season-low 5 points, all in the first half. Mayo was hampered by a 2-for-13 shooting performance, including l-for-7 from beyond die 3- point line. "They played pretty good defense on me tonight," Mayo said. "The looks that I did have didn't fall. Sometimes they fall and sometimes they don't." UIC outrebounded Butler 37-32, including a 19-10 margin on the offensive glass. The Flames, who entered the game 11th in the country at 39.5 percent from 3-point range, were held to 28.6 (6-for-21). Robert Kreps led the Flames with 15 points. Jermaine Dailey (12 points, 10 rebounds) finished his UIC career with his second double- double of the season. Collins said he was proud of his team for exceeding expectations. "At the beginning of the year people said we were going to win 10 games and we won 18," he said. "Hindsight says that I couldn't have gotten any better people." ASSOCIATE!) I'RKSS Butler's Matt Howard, right, and Illinois-Chicago's Scott VanderMeer go for a loose ball during the first half of Saturday's Horizon League tournament semifinal. Illinois 67, Minnesota 58 ASSOCIATED PRESS Pittsburgh's OeJuan Blair averages 12 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. DePaul (11-18,6-11) at Pittsburgh (21-9,9-8) When: 11 a.m. at the Petersen Events Center TV: Channel 23 Radio: WSCR670-AM The skinny: Thanks to Villanova's helpful win at Providence on Saturday night, this becomes an all-or-nothing game for the Blue Demons. What's at stake? An all- expenses-paid trip to New York to face West Virginia. DePaul * can claim the 12th seed in the Big East tournament with a win today. Of course, that's no easy task. Pittsburgh's strength is in the frontcourt, which dovetails with DePaul's season-long defensive weakness. Junior Sam Young, a certain all-Big East selection, averages 18 points and 6.4 rebounds while freshman DeJuan Blair goes for 12 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Moreover, Pitt allows its opponents to shoot just 33 percent from 3-point range, That cuts into DePaul's best half-court attribute. Maybe senior guard Draelon Burns will maintain the hot hand he wielded in Thursday's win at Cincinnati. NIU (6-20,3-11) at E. Michigan (12-16,7-8) When: 1 p.m. at EMU's Convocation Center Radio: www.niuhuskies.com The skinny: The Huskies try to build up a bit of steam heading into their MAC tournament opener Wednesday. NIU has lost eight of its last nine, a stretch that doesn't include its 65-61 home loss to Eastern Michigan on Jan. 16. Backup guard Jarred Axon victimized the Huskies with a career-high seven 3-pointers in that game. NIU junior guard Jarvis Nichols, the Glenbard North product, is still on track to set the school record for consecutive free throws. Nichols has made 27 in a row over the last six weeks. He needs 7 more to break Todd Peterson's record. NIU will be either the 11th or 12th seed in next week's MAC tourney. It depends on this game and Buffalo's trip to Ohio. — Lindsey Willhite High note in down season Illinois seniors go out with win in homefinak BY JOHN LEMON jlemon@duilylierald. com CHAMPAIGN — Almost everything Illinois fans have come to expect—NCAA Tournament bids, 20-plus-win seasons, contending for Big Ten tides — has either come to a sudden halt this season or will, barring a miraculous run at next week's Big Ten tournament. Then there's Minnesota. Some things never change, not even during a year the Illini will set a school record for losses with their next defeat. Illinois' 19th straight win over the Golden Gophers — the longest streak for any Big Ten team over another — allowed seniors Brian Randle, Shaun Pruitt and walk-on Chris Hicks to enjoy their final game at Assembly Hall. Hicks put the final touches on a 67-58 win with a 3- pointer at the buzzer. Randle and Pruitt didn't score much, but they combined for 20 rebounds to pace Illinois' 45r 19 advantage. Juniors Trent Meacham and Calvin Brock picked up the scoring slack with 21 and 17 points, respectively, giving Illinois a boost heading into the conference tournament. The lOth-seeded Illini open at 1:30 p.m. Thursday against No. 7 seed — either Iowa, Penn State or Michigan. "I don't know what it is. I guess our guys are just pretty intimidated by the Illini," said ASSOCIATED PRESS Illinois' Demetri McCamey is guarded by Minnesota's Kevin Payton during the second half Saturday at the Assembly Hall. Minnesota coach Tubby Smith. "We knew what Meacham could do, but we lost him quite a bit." Randle, a fifth-year senior who has battled injuries and foul trouble seemingly his entire five-year career, needed only 17 seconds to record his first foul. He finished with 4 points but filled up the stat sheet with a season-high 12 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks on an emotional day. "I woke up and almost had a panic attack," said Randle. "Lot of anxiety. I grabbed a stick of gum. That's when I know I'm nervous. I chomped on that for 45 minutes and calmed my nerves." Illinois (13-18, 5-13) led 2726 at halftime. Pruitt's first basket gave him 1,000 points for his career — the 41st player in Illinois history to reach that plateau — though he only played five first-half minutes because of foul trouble. Illinois coach Bruce Weber screamed, "Don't worry about die fouls" at Pruitt as he took the court to start the second half. He didn't, hit a couple of free throws for a 31-27 lead, then watched Meacham take over. Meacham scored 18 of his points in the second half. He hit a pair of 3s to help Illinois open up its largest lead at 4332. Minnesota (18-12, 8-10) never caught up. The Gophers pulled within 46-45, then Pruitt found a cutting Brock for a reverse layup. With Illinois ahead 49-47, Meacham hit 2 free throws and then another 3. "You wish seniors could go out and get double-doubles (on senior day), but it doesn't always happen," Weber said. "Trent really shot the ball well." Meacham scored his 21 points on only 9 shots from the field. He hit 4 of 5 from beyond the arc. "It's been a tough year and we've been fighting and needed a lift," Meacham said. "It was nice to send these guys out on a good note. Whatever I could do to help I wanted to do that." NU: Butch, Wisconsin clinch title Continued from Puge 1 (26-4, 16-2) weren't one of the top three picks in the Big Ten media's preseason poll. That looked like a good call when Wisconsin went to Duke and took an 82-58 beating Nov. 27. But then Badgers senior Michael Flowers hit a last-second 3-pointer to lift Wisconsin to a 67-66 victory at Texas on Dec. 29 — and they soared from there. "They both were (huge)," Butch said. "At Duke, we absolutely got our butts kicked. That's all there is to say about it. And then at Texas, you start believing. And once you believe in yourself and the locker room believes, it's cool to see it evolve." Northwestern felt its team evolved as the Big Ten season wore on, but its record showed otherwise. The Wildcats (8-21, 1-17) thought they had a shot to knock off the Badgers, but the visitors' size and physicality made things too tough. Not only did Wisconsin win the boards 38-21., some Wildcats kept encouraging the officials to note how they were being manhandled while MARK WELSH/HIwulslifa dailyhurald.com Northwestern's Jeremy Nash tries to block a shot by Wisconsin's Michael Flowers in the Badgers' 65-52 victory. trying to run their cuts. "They're a little bigger and I don't think as agile as some of the other teams that we play," said sophomore Kevin Coble, who led NU with 17 points. "But they make up for it by bumping the cutters and holding you and doing different things to take us out of it. "It's a unique way of playing and it makes it tough on us. I have bruises, I'll tell you that." Eldridge carries ISU into MVC title game Associalnl I'ma ST. LOUIS — Osiris Eldridge had 13 points and 8 rebounds, and Illinois State was 8-for-16 from 3-point range, advancing to the championship game of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament with a 56-42 victory over Northern Iowa on Saturday. Boo Richardson added 9 points and 5 assists for the second-seeded Redbirds (248), who'll play top-seeded Drake (27-4) for the title today. Behind first-year coach Tim Jankovich, ISU made it to the final for the first time since 1998, when it won both the regular-season title and tournament. The No. 2 seed has won 13 of 31 tournament championships, more than any other seed. The top seed has prevailed 10 times. Eric Coleman had 14 points and 15 rebounds, his 16th double-double of the season, for Northern Iowa. The sixth- seeded Bulldogs (18-14) upset third seed Southern Illinois in the quarterfinals and have won six in a row and eight of nine. ISU held Northern Iowa to 31.8 percent shooting. Adam Viet, who had 19 points in the quarterfinals with six 3-pointers, was l-for-7 and had 3 points. ISU 56, N. Iowa 42 ASSOCIATED I'RKSS Illinois State's Anthony Slack, right, and Northern Iowa's Adam Koch collide as they scramble for a loose ball. The Redbirds were in control after a 15-3 first-half run. Northern Iowa, which split a pair of regular-season meetings with ISU, pulled within 49-42 on a short bank shot by Coleman with 5:02 to go before missing its last 7 shots. Eldridge, who was 3-for-7 from 3-point range, needed dental work and had to wear a mouth guard after chipping a tooth in the quarterfinals. He had 10 points in the first half but missed his first 5 shots in the second half before hitting a 3-pointer for a 56-42 lead with just over two minutes to go-

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