Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Eagles Pass a 'Midterm' Defense Shuts Down No. 2 Wesleyan

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Eagles Pass a 'Midterm' Defense Shuts Down No. 2 Wesleyan

Article excerpt

There were three times on Monday night when the University of Southern Indiana basketball team was at a critical juncture against archrival Kentucky Wesleyan, and all three times the Eagles did what they needed to do. counted against the previously undefeated Panthers and pulled away late to a 72-57 win in the matchup of Division II powerhouses at PAC Arena. "This was a really big deal," said Eagles guard Lawrence Thomas. "When the undefeated No. 2 team in the country comes in here you better be ready, and we were.

"Our mind-set, no matter who we're playing, is three shutouts. That's three shutouts on three straight possessions. We knew they had two great offensive players (Cardell McFarland and Anthony Young), but we knew if we did well on them we would be in great shape."

McFarland, the senior from Bosse, was averaging 20.7 and got 21. But Young, who averages 21.3, was forced to settle for 11.

"We knew the key was McFarland and Young," said USI senior Brandon Hogg. "They provide the majority of their offense.

"We knew nobody was going to stop them alone so we all used our quickness and gave lots of help and made them work."

USI coach Rodney Watson said the defense set the tone, but there were other factors that allowed the No. 7 Eagles (14-1 overall, 6-1 Great Lakes Valley Conference) to cruise.

"We called this a midterm exam," said Watson. "We wanted to get back on transition defense and control the lane, which we didn't really do.

"But we adjusted in the second half and got a couple big blocked shots and converted them into easy baskets. Those were huge. But we also rebounded very well and outscored them off the bench 23-0.

"That was the game right there."

The first game-changing block came early in the second half, right after Kenyon Smith converted a steal into a basket to give the Eagles a 43-36 lead. …

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