Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Title Goes to the Dogs: Siuc Topples No. Iowa

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Title Goes to the Dogs: Siuc Topples No. Iowa

Article excerpt

Doggone it. The Salukis have done it again. Southern Illinois University-Carbondale is going back to the NCAA Tournament.

The Salukis became the first team in the 18-year history of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament to win back-to-back tournament titles. They did so by defeating upset-mind-Northern Iowa 77-74 Monday night at The Arena.

The Salukis (23-6) now await their assignment to an NCAA Tournament regional Sunday. Fifth-seeded Northern Iowa, which toppled top-seeded Tulsa on Sunday, finished 16-13.

The Salukis did a job on Panthers star Cam Johnson in the first half. SIUC guard Paul Lusk (Wesclin High) had the primary responsibility of guarding Johnson, but got plenty of help.

Whenever Lusk got hung up behind one of the innumerable screens the Panthers set to get Johnson open, a Salukis teammate was there to get a hand in Johnson's face.

Johnson, who scored 54 points in the first two tournament games, didn't get his first basket until 7 minutes 45 seconds remained before halftime. He had just four points at the half on two-of-nine shooting. Nonetheless, the Panthers trailed only 34-31 at the break, thanks to nine points by Randy Blocker and a surprising six points apiece by role players Jason Sims and Brian Carpenter.

Northern Iowa jumped to an 8-2 lead before the Salukis asserted themselves with a 14-2 run that included 3-pointers by Chris Carr and Paul Lusk. SIUC led by as many as 10 points twice, including 30-20 with under five minutes to play in the half.

But the Salukis, who didn't use a substitute until 10:08 remained in the half, appeared to tire late in the period.

A follow shot by Sims, a jumper by Carpenter, and a conventional 3-point play by Blocker narrowed the Panthers' deficit to 30-27. After the teams traded baskets, Johnson hit a jumper from just inside the 3-point line to whittle SIUC's lead to 32-31. …

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