HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Vincennes University's Elite Eight night at the NJCAA National Tournament on Thursday became milestone night.

Lony Francis cleared 1,000 career points, coach Todd Franklin registered his 600th win and the Trailblazers cruised past Odessa (Texas), 72-60.

Keith Clemons tallied 17 points and five assists, and Craig Porter added 11 points and eight rebounds for third-seeded for VU (32-2), which advanced to the semifinal for the second consecutive year and 12th time in history.

The Blazers play the only other seed better than them at 8 p.m. today, second-seeded South Plains (Texas). The first semifinal pits fifth-seeded Florida SouthWestern and eighth-seeded Ranger (Texas). Ranger upended top-seeded Northwest Florida State on Thursday, 66-63.

VU's quarterfinal game had a lot less drama. The Blazers scored the game's first nine points and led by 19 at halftime. Despite a spotty second half, the Wranglers never got closer than eight points.

"I don't care about that (600 wins). I care about the fight we showed and getting to the semifinal," Blazers coach Todd Franklin said. "I'm awfully proud of these guys, getting to the semis two years in a row. It's a tough route we've had both times, playing late games on consecutive nights. We'll see if we have enough in the tank to finish this out."

A lot of Thursday's credit went to VU's backcourt of Clemons and Porter.

"Keith Clemons had a real nice game. He was under duress all night, but he was strong with the ball and was more assertive," Franklin said. "Craig Porter had a heck of a game for a freshman, chasing their top scorer, James Reese, all night and holding him to 3-of-14. He hit some big shots when we needed them too.

"Our freshmen have been good out here."

While the Blazers put Odessa on the ropes to start the game, it wasn't until later in the opening half when they knocked down the Wranglers.

Odessa (28-7) got consecutive three-point plays from Jawann Daniels and Aquarn Butler to close within 25-20 with seven minutes before intermission. That ended up being the Wranglers last field goals in a 7-for-35 shooting half.

Colten Sandage scored all eight of his points in an 11-point run to extend VU's lead to 36-20 with 4:05 to go before halftime and elevated to 40-21 by intermission.

Sandage is a freshman and so is little-used Chinedu Okanu. With Francis in foul trouble, Okanu came in and had four points, two rebounds and two blocked shots during the Blazers' late first-half surge.

"(Okanu) stepped up massively," Franklin said. "He was the best inside player on the floor in his eight minutes."

Odessa scored the first 10 points of the second half and got it within eight on two occasions, the last at 49-41 with still more than 10 minutes to go.

"We must have gotten it inside four of the first five possessions of the second half and just didn't finalize plays," Franklin said. "But Odessa is so big and long, and they're a top-10 team. It's tough holding off teams in those situations."

It was a 59-50 lead when VU scored the next seven points to end any suspense. Francis, who was the Blazers third double-figure with 10, had the last six in that stretch to make it 66-50 with 1:50 to go. His patented left-handed jump hook with 2:38 to go allowed him to become the 39th VU player to reach 1,000 points.

"Getting there is especially hard at our place, where we have a number of good players, and we don't have guys getting 25 a night," Franklin said. "You're not going to average more than 15-16 per game, so you have to be good from day one to the last day, and that's what Lony has been."

Jaylen Hawkins was Odessa's only double-figure scorer with 12 points. VU, which entered the game with an NJCAA-best 61.8 defensive average, lowered that total against the Wranglers, who own two wins against tonight's opponent, South Plains.




Reese (f) 3-14 0-1 8, A.Johnson (f) 3-8 0-0 8, Parker (f) 0-2 1-2 1, Carrigan (c) 4-5 0-0 8, Carter (g) 0-2 0-0 0, Hawkins 4-9 4-5 12, Daniels 3-11 1-1 8, Butler 2-10 1-3 5, Jones 0-4 3-4 3, Pierce 1-1 1-2 3, D.Johnson 1-1 0-0 2, Morgan 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 22-69 11-18 60.


Dixon (f) 2-3 2-4 6, Osawe (f) 1-6 1-3 4, Francis (c) 4-13 2-6 10, Clemons (g) 5-12 5-5 17, Porter (g) 4-7 1-4 11, Kangu 1-6 5-7 8, Sandage 2-6 2-4 8, Okanu 1-1 2-2 4, Mekkam 1-1 0-0 2, Lyons 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 22-56 20-35 72.


Odessa |21-39 — 60

Vincennes |40-32 — 72

3-pointers: Odessa 5-22 (A.Johnson 2-5, Reese 2-7, Daniels 1-3, Hawkins 0-1, Parker 0-1, Butler 0-5), VU 8-20 (Sandage 2-3, Porter 2-4, Clemons 2-6, Kangu 1-3, Osawe 1-4). Rebounds: Odessa 43 (Carrigan 11), VU 44 (Osawe 11). Turnovers: Odessa 12, VU 11. Fouls: Odessa 25, VU 18. Fouled out: A.Johnson.

NJCAA Finals

at Hutchinson, Kan.

Monday's results

(Seeds in parenthesis)

(17) Cape Fear, NC 104, (16) Arizona Western 90

(24) Cleveland State, Tenn. 90, (9) Casper, Wyo. 83

(15) Trinity Valley, Texas 82, (18) Shelton State, Ala. 70

(10) Eastern Florida State 61, (23) Allegany, Md. 51

(20) Kaskaskia, Ill. 92, (13) Sheridan, Wyo. 80

(12) Indian Hills, Iowa 84, (21) Central Georgia Tech 62

Tuesday's results

(14) Moberly Area, Mo. 82, (19) Northeastern Oklahoma A&M 73

(11) Pearl River, Miss. 83, (22) Williston State, ND 69

(1) Northwest Florida State 95, Cape Fear 75

(8) Ranger, Texas 83, Cleveland State 66

(2) South Plains, Texas 82, Trinity Valley 75

Eastern Florida State 67, (7) Seward County, Kan. 59

Wednesday's results

(4) Coffeyville, Kan. 76, Kaskaskia, 73

(5) Florida SouthWestern 77, Indian Hills 71

(3) Vincennes 81, Moberly Area 74

(6) Odessa, Texas 69, Pearl River 61

Thursday's games


Ranger 66, Northwest Florida State 63

South Plains 82, Eastern Florida State 74

Coffeyville 67, Florida SouthWestern 66, OT

Vincennes 72, Odessa 60

Today's games


Ranger vs. Coffeyville, 6 p.m.

South Plains vs. Vincennes, 8 p.m.

Saturday's game

Championship 2 p.m.

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