Inside play, defense top notch in win over Kaskaskia
On a day when the temperature approached 80 degrees and the NCAA played its championship game, the Vincennes University men's basketball team opened its postseason play Monday.
The odd circumstances didn't throw off the Trailblazers. Reserve Christian Wells scored 18 points to go with nine rebounds, DJ Brewton tallied 17 and VU's defense continued to be stout in eliminating Kaskaskia, 73-47, in the Region 24 quarterfinals.
The good night turned better after the game for the 20th-ranked Blazers (16-5). Seventh-seeded Shawnee (7-11) upset second-seeded Olney Central on Monday, allowing third-seeded VU to host the Saints in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The Blazers have swept Shawnee, which entered the tournament on a six-game losing streak, in the regular season. VU split with the Blue Knights and would have had to play at Olney had they won. VU coach Todd Franklin didn't outwardly celebrate his team's change of fortune, confident his team matches up well with whatever opponent is in the way. The Blazers have won eight of nine and held the last two foes under 50 points.
"I don't care who we play or where we play. I just know if we play well, we're going to be OK," Franklin said. "That's especially true right now. We've developed a little bit. We have the best record in the district over the last 13 games (11-2) and are getting better.
"I'm hoping we can get better between now and Wednesday."
VU only trailed 2-0 Monday, took a 33-20 halftime lead and ended any doubt with a 17-2 burst in the second half to extend the advantage to 25.
Justin Archer scored 11 points with eight rebounds, and John Ukomadu added 10 points, as the Blazers three inside players combined for 39 points. VU shot 55 percent (30-55), as Brewton, Archer and Ukomadu combined to hit 15-of-22. Wells wasn't particular proficient, but his low-post activity was a welcome sight, scoring 14 second-half points.
He didn't play in a pair of games before appearing the regular-season finale last week.
"Wells was a little soft in the first half around the basket, but the rest of the game he was solid," Franklin said. "He's a strong guy with skills, who understands the spacing and angles. Both he and Archer are good interior passes, and when they work off each other, it can cause a lot of problems for teams."
Brewton was also instrumental in VU pulling away, scoring 11 second-half points.
"He can be good. We just need to keep him from turning it over. When he is ready on the catch, DJ can shoot it and be very effective for us," Franklin said.
The Blazers took control late in the opening half, holding the Blue Devils scoreless for more than six minutes. That was plenty of time for VU to score eight straight for a 31-17 advantage, a double-figure lead it maintained the rest of the game.
Kaskaskia's Shomari Tillett, who had a game-high 19 points, attempted to keep the visitors in it. He had 14 points in the first nine minutes of the second half, but had to be pulled from the game soon after due to back stiffness.
The Blue Devils, who are 0-28 all-time against the Blazers in the P.E. Complex, tallied just eight points in the last 12 minutes of the game.
VINCENNES 73, KASKASKIA 47
Tillett (f) 8-17 3-4 19, Williams (f) 0-1 1-2 1, White (f) 1-5 2-2 4, Hughes (g) 4-10 3-3 11, Jones (g) 2-6 0-2 4, Huercules 0-2 1-2 1, Petty 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 1-2 1-3 3, Sheen 0-4 2-2 2, Duffy 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 17-48 13-20 47.
Ukomadu (f) 5-7 0-0 10, Archer (f) 5-6 1-2 11, Tucker (g) 2-9 0-0 4, Brewton (g) 5-9 5-6 17, Jefferson (g) 2-2 0-0 5, Watson 0-0 0-0 0, Muntu 0-1 0-0 0, Hunter 3-4 0-0 6, Wells 8-17 2-2 18, Martin 0-0 0-0 0, Tims 0-0 2-2 2. Totals: 30-55 10-12 73.
SCORE BY HALVES
Kaskaskia |20-27 — 47
Vincennes |33-40 — 73
3-pointers: Kaskaskia 0-9 (Williams 0-1, Smith 0-1, Jones 0-1, Huercules 0-1, White 0-2, Hughes 0-3), VU 3-11 (Brewton 2-5, Jefferson 1-1, Wells 0-1, Tucker 0-4). Rebounds: Kaskaskia 20 (Tillett 6), VU 35 (Wells 9). Turnovers: Kaskaskia 12, VU 17. Fouls: Kaskaskia 15, VU 16.