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Fighting Bees blaze way to MCC Tourney title


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Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2012, 10:06 pm
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By Tom Johnston, tjohnston@qconline.com
For the first eight-plus minutes, Sunday's Midwest Collegiate Conference Men's Basketball Tournament Championship game was playing out like the slugfest many figured it would be between rivals St. Ambrose and Grand View.

Both teams were playing tough defense as they played to a 17-all tie.

Then things changed -- and quickly.

SAU's defense stiffened and the visiting Vikings failed to make a field goal for the final 11:49 of the first half and 2:43 into the second half. At the same time, the Bees couldn't miss, scoring in bunches of three, netting 23 straight points at one point and getting some unbelievable circus shots to fall on their home court at Lee Lohman Arena.

It all led to one of the most lopsided MCC title games ever as the nationally 15th-ranked Fighting Bees rolled to an 84-55 victory and their 15th straight victory. That win streak matches the best in Coach Ray Shovlain's 29 season as SAU coach and is two shy of what is believed to be the school record set in the 1953-54 season.

"We thought this would be a closer game than it was and really come down to the wire," said Shovlain after his club moved to 25-8 with its second win over the Vikings (17-13) in three meetings this season.

It didn't even come down to halftime by which time SAU had a commanding 43-19 lead as Grand View missed its final 13 field goal attempts of the half.

"We had no answers,'' said a dejected Grand View coach Denis Schaefer, who watched Rock Island prep Amin Ekalino lead his club with 14 points and seven rebounds.

That showed as four SAU starters reached double-digit scoring. Seniors Chris Donnelly and Mike Kennedy keyed the offense. Donnelly, who had two Harlem Globetrotter-type shots fall, finished with a game-high 20 points. Kennedy had a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double and also added four assists and two steals. Freshman Nicholas Frazier added 18 points and Moline junior Justin Blondell 11. Junior reserve Andy Supergan had nine points and seven rebounds.

The veteran GVU coach was hoping his seventh-seeded club could pull off a third straight tourney upset and earn a spot at the NAIA National Div. II Championships along with the regular-season champ Bees. Instead, the league's second berth goes to regular-season runner-up William Penn, whom the Vikings upset in the tourney quarterfinals, 93-88.

"They shot the ball incredibly,'' said Schaefer of the Bees, who finished 30 of 56 from the floor (53.6 percent).

In that first half, SAU was 14 of 27 (51.9 percent) from the field against a team that was ranked 6th nationally in field goal percentage defense (39.7) and 10th in points allowed (63.9). It ended being the second-most points the Vikings allowed in a game this season, behind the 88 to William Penn in the quarters.

The Bees were seemingly unstoppable on offense. In the first half, 11 of SAU's 16 offensive trips with scores netted three points. The Bees had five 3-pointers, five old-fashioned three-point plays and another in which Frazier hit three free throws.

"It just seemed like everything went our way tonight,'' said Donnelly. "We created our own opportunities with our defense. That was a point of emphasis for us – if you want to win championships, you have to play defense.''

SAU will get to continue showing off that defense at the National tournament in Point Lookout, Mo., at the College of the Ozarks. The 32-team, single-elimination tourney runs March 7-13 with the brackets being announced Wednesday evening.






BASKETBALL
Q-C college men
MCC Tournament
St. Ambrose 84, Grand view 55
GRAND VIEW (17-13)
Smith 1-6 0-0 1 1 2, Ekalino 7-10 0-2 1 7 14, Clark 6-10 0-2 0 4 12, Henry 2-5 0-0 4 4 4, Ingle 4-11 2-2 2 1 12, Hunt 0-0 0-0 3 3 0, Young 1-4 1-2 1 4 3, Cunningham 1-6 1-2 2 3 3, Malloy 0-3 0-0 2 0 0, Lohmann 0-2 0-0 0 0 0, Jones 0-0 0-0 0 0 0, McCarl 1-1 0-0 0 1 2, Muench 0-0 2-2 0 0 2, Fondell 0-2 1-2 0 2 1. Team rebounds 2. Totals 23-60 7-14 16 32 55.
No. 15 ST. AMBROSE (25-8)
Kennedy 5-10 4-7 1 13 15, Donnelly 8-12 3-3 3 4 20, Frazier 6-12 3-3 1 1 18, Blondell 3-4 3-3 3 1 11, Davis 2-7 1-1 2 5 5, Supergan 4-6 0-0 2 7 9, Alpen 0-1 0-0 0 0 0, Fiol 0-1 0-0 1 1 0, O'Reilly 0-0 0-0 0 0 0, Murphy 0-0 0-0 0 0 0, Koncel 1-1 0-0 0 1 3, Hutton 0-1 0-0 1 0 0, Sexton 1-1 0-0 0 0 3, Waldroup 0-0 0-0 0 0 0. Team rebounds 2. Totals 30-56 14-17 14 35 84.
Halftime: SAU 43-19. 3s: GVU 2-12 (Ingle 2-5, Smith 0-1, Malloy 0-1, Lohmann 0-1, Henry 0-2, Cunningham 0-2); SAU 10-20 (Frazier 3-4, Blondell 2-3, Koncel 1-1, Sexton 1-1, Supergan 1-2, Kennedy 1-3, Donnelly 1-3, Hutton 0-1, Davis 0-2). Assists: GVU 8 (Clark 5); SAU 18 (Davis 6, Kennedy 3, Blondell 3). Turnovers: GVU 11 (Henry 3); SAU 11 (Kennedy 2, Supergan 2). Blocks: GVU 1 (Young); SAU 2 (Donnelly, Supergan). Steals: GVU 7 (Clark 2); SAU 11 (Donnelly 3, Blondell 2, Kennedy 2).















 



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