Okanu's double-double lifts VU

Photo by Matt Griffith / VU

Vincennes University's Craig Porter, center, reaches around Kankakee's Ahmed Mahmoud, right, in a steal attempt Friday at the P.E. Complex.

Chinedu Okanu came through with a double-double to lead four players in double figures Friday night, as the top-ranked Vincennes University basketball team opened play in the Sodexo Classic by pulling away from Kankakee (Ill.), 83-62.

Okanu hit 10 of 16 shots and finished with 22 points, along with 10 rebounds for the defending NJCAA champion Trailblazers (4-0). Colton Sandage added 16 points, while sophomore Craig Porter added a season-high 16 and Randy Tucker 11, all in the second half.

“They gave us some problems,” said VU coach Todd Franklin, whose team made 33 of 73 shots for 45 percent, and held a 38-25 advantage on the backboards. “We’re trying to figure it out as we go along.”

In a game that had three times and three lead changes, the Blazers led just 37-32 at halftime, but put the game away with a 13-0 run.

Tucker started the spurt by converting an offensive rebound, then drilling a 3-pointer for a 54-45 VU lead. After Sandage extended the advantage by hitting a pair of free throws after a Kankakee assistant coach was called for a technical foul, Porter and Okanu tossed in baskets. Porter’s three-point play with 10:32 remaining stretched the VU lead to 62-45, and ended the scoring run.

The Blazers, who led by as many as six points in the opening half, eventually led by as many as 23 points, 83-60, on a pair of free tosses by freshman Christian Wells with 1:53 remaining.

Michael Moshkovitz, one of three Kankakee players from Jerusalem, Israel, totaled a team-high 18 points and nine rebounds. Jonte Coleman added 15 points for the Cavaliers (2-1), while Ahmed Mahmoud contributed 11.

The Blazers scored their third win by 20 or more points of the season despite a minimal contribution from sophomore Kevin Osawe, the 2019 NJCAA Finals MVP. Osawe, who led the team with a 18.0 scoring average through the first three games, started and played the first 4:07, but did not score. He missed four shots, two of which were from 3-point range, and snared two rebounds. He did not return to the game after going to the bench.

“We play those who do what we say,” Franklin said. “We always have and always will. We were pretty clear on what we said before the game and that wasn’t executed. We play those who do what we say.”

Franklin said he’s unclear about Osawe’s future with the program.

“I don’t know when or if he’ll ever get on the floor again,” Franklin said.

Kankakee had the best of the action at the outset, and took its biggest lead by scoring the game’s first five points. The Cavaliers weathered the storm through the game’s first 10 minutes, but the Trailblazers took the lead for good at 27-24 on Chuka Mekkam's 3-pointer at the 8:10 mark of the opening half. Mekkam’s basket started an 6-0 VU spree that led to a pair of six-point leads late in the first half.

Both teams finish play in the Sodexo Classic today. Kankakee faces John A. Logan to open the evening at 5 p.m. The Blazers then go against Columbia State (Tenn.).

In Friday’s opening game, John A. Logan held off Columbia State, 81-75.

VINCENNES 83, KANKAKEE 62

MEN-FRIDAY

KANKAKEE

J.Coleman 5-9 0-0 15, Mahmoud 5-6 1-2 11, P.Coleman 0-6 0-0 0, Moshkovitz 7-13 3-3 18, Nixon 3-6 0-0 7, Sims 2-6 2-2 6, Shefa 1-5 2-2 5, Amotz 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 23-52 8-9 62.

VINCENNES

Osawe (f) 0-4 0-0 0, Okanu (c) 10-17 2-2 22, Tucker (g) 4-8 0-0 11, Porter (g) 5-11 2-2 13, Sandage (g) 6-15 2-2 16, Ukomadu 0-0 1-2 1, Mekkam 2-10 0-1 5, Rogers 0-1 1-2 1, Wells 5-8 2-2 12, Kone 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 33-76 10-13 83.

SCORE BY HALVES

Kankakee |32-30 — 62

Vincennes |37-46 — 83

3-pointers: Kankakee 8-23 (J.Coleman 5-8, Moshkovitz 1-2, Shefa 1-2, Nixon 1-4, Mahmoud 0-1, Sims 0-1, Amotz 0-1, P.Coleman 0-4), VU 7-24 (Tucker 3-4, Sandage 2-10, Mekkam 1-2, Porter 1-5, Rogers 0-1, Osawe 0-2). Rebounds: Kankakee 24 (Moshkovitz 7), VU 40 (Okanu, Porter 10). Turnovers: Kankakee 18, VU 9. Fouls: Kankakee 11, VU 14. Technical foul: Kankakee.

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