March 3, 2006|
EVANSVILLE, Ind. - J.B. Jones netted 21 points as No. 22 Southern Illinois University Edwardsville moved on to the semifinals of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament with a 78-74 win over Northern Kentucky in Roberts Stadium on Friday.
Jones set a tournament record by connecting on all 13 of his free throw attempts. The 6-foot-2-inch sophomore also collected team-highs with five rebounds, five assists, and two steals.
"J.B. was obviously clutch for us down the stretch," said SIUE men's basketball coach Marty Simmons.
Jones notched 20 points for the second time this season on 4-of-6 shooting.
"The last couple games I had been missing some free throws," said Jones. "I had just been practicing trying to make them for the game. I guess practice paid off."
The Cougars will play Quincy, which defeated UW-Parkside 82-71, in the GLVC semifinals Saturday at 6 p.m. The game can be heard on WSIE 88.7 FM and SIUE's Webradio.
SIUE, No. 7 in the Great Lakes Region, moves to 22-6 overall and improves its chances of making the eight-team field for next week's NCAA Tournament. The Norse fall to 17-11 on the season. Northern Kentucky, No. 8 in the Great Lakes Region, will likely be on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament field.
The Norse and Cougars battled back and forth in the first half with SIUE gaining a 20-11 advantage with 10:30 left to go. Northern Kentucky trimmed the lead to 28-23 on a pair of Billy Finnell shots. SIUE led at the half 36-27 mainly on the strength of a 60 percent (15-25) shooting performance.
The Cougars stretched that advantage to 14 points (48-38) with 14:32 left in the second half and seemed in a position to pull away.
NKU, however, put together a 20-8 run that saw the Norse pull to within two (56-54) on a Kevin Reinhardt free throw with 7:22 remaining. The Norse did manage to get as close as one on a Reinhardt three-pointer with 5:18 left (64-63), but the Cougars went 10 for 10 from the charity stripe in the final 2:19 to seal the win.
"The kids stepped up at the end and hit the shots," said Simmons. "Give credit to them (Northern Kentucky), we were adjusting to them all day. We had some guys with their tongues hanging out there, but we got through it."
Ty Johnson scored 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting for the Cougars. Justin Ward came off the bench to score 14 points and grab four rebounds. When Ward scores in double figures the Cougars are 10-0 this season.
"We just tried to stay in attack mode because coach (Simmons) told us the most aggressive team will win," said Jones.
Harrison Morton led Northern Kentucky with a career-high 26 points and game-high six rebounds. Kevin Reinhardt added 23 points and Scott Bibbins 11. SIUE won the battle of the boards, 29-25.
The Cougars shot 57.4 percent (27-47) from the field while netting and netted 50 percent (5-10) of their shots from long range.
The teams combined for just 15 turnovers in a well played contest.