Keenan leading Ferris State
Notebook: Harding notches first conference title since '87
You would think Justin Keenan would have the weight of the world on his shoulders. After all, being the NCAA Division II preseason national player of the year comes with high expectations.
But the Ferris State senior forward said there is no pressure at all on him in a year in which he as led the Bulldogs (22-7) to a 20-plus win season for the first time since 2005 when they played in the Sweet 16.
Keenan said that is a credit to his teammates.
“I don’t feel like I have to do everything,” Keenan said. “I have great teammates and any one of them can step up on any given night. We win basketball games because we always give a good team effort.”
Ferris State head coach Bill Sall echoed those thoughts.
“Justin is a great basketball player, one of the best in Division II, but we are not a one-man team,” Sall said. “We have a lot of good players on this team and I’m proud of how this team has competed this season.”
Ferris State, ranked 23rd in the nation, went into the weekend as the top seed in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament.
Yet, despite battling hard against Wayne State (Mich.) for 40 minutes, the Bulldogs were the victim of a crushing loss, falling 73-71 in the conference tournament final when Mike Hollingsworth tipped in a missed shot with 1.5 seconds remaining.
Keenan scored 25 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in the loss, a typical performance for a player who is averaging 21.9 points and 10 rebounds and is the all-time leader in points scored against GLIAC competition.
And while Keenan couldn’t lead the Bulldogs to a conference tournament championship, the two-time GLIAC Player of the Year is looking forward to playing in his first NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs are seeded sixth and will take on Wayne State (Mich.) in the opening round of the Midwest Regional on Saturday in Louisville.
“It feels good to get to play in the tournament because we’ve worked hard for the opportunity,” Keenan said. “It was one of our goals this season and hopefully we can accomplish something while we are there.”
Need to Know
• Iowa doesn’t have a record worth bragging about, but on Saturday afternoon, the Hawkeyes came through with a win worth talking about.
Iowa stunned No. 6 Purdue 67-65 at home, snapping a miserable streak of 25-consecutive losses to nationally ranked teams. The Hawkeyes’ last win over a ranked opponent was against No. 6 Michigan State in January of 2008.
Jarryd Cole led the upset bid. He finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, tallying his seventh career double-double for the Hawkeyes, who improved to 11-19 overall with the victory.
• The defending NCAA Division III national champions continued their march toward Salem with a 76-56 win against Luther at John Buuck Field House in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The game was actually tied at 4-4 five minutes into the action, but a back-breaking 22-0 run tilted the momentum in favor of the Pointers, who punched a ticket to the Round of 16 with the victory.
Louis Hurd and Jerrell Harris were the stars of the show. The clicked for 18 and 17 points, respectively, on a day when the Pointers led by as many as 26 points in the second half after taking a commanding 34-15 lead into halftime.
• Harding hadn’t won a postseason championship in more than 20 years. The drought ended this past weekend as the Bisons blasted Arkansas Tech 80-61 in the championship game of the Gulf South Conference tournament.
The title is the Bisons’ first in the postseason since 1987 when they won the NAIA District 17 Regional tournament.
Kevin Brown stepped up big in the victory. He poured in 19 points while Sam Brown and Stephen Blake clicked for 17 and 10 points, respectively. They were among five players in double figures for Harding, which swished eight treys through the net and shot 58 percent from the field overall.
Blake was named the MVP of the tournament.
Harding held a 39-26 lead at halftime and maintained the advantage in the second half as it secured its third trip to the NCAA tournament in school history.
The Bisons were tough defensively as well, limiting the Wonder Boys to 35 percent shooting. They also held a decisive 40-24 edge in bench points.
• Cincinnati took advantage of good free-throw shooting, connecting on 24 of its 30 attempts as it stunned No. 17 Georgetown 69-47 on Saturday. The Bearcats handed the Hoyas their third consecutive loss and Dion Dixon helped lead the way for Cincinnati, scoring 14 points. Yancy Gates added 13 points.
• Gage Daye lived up to his billing as the Central Athletic Collegiate Conference Player of the year, pumping in 24 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists as Bloomfield knocked off Goldey-Beacom 94-81 in the conference tournament title game. Daye was named the MVP of the tournament and Bloomfield secured its fourth CACC championship since 2003.
• When North Carolina lost to Texas on a last-second shot in December, the Tar Heels seemed destined for an average season. But the Tar Heels have won 17 of their last 19 games since then, including an 81-67 win against No. 4 Duke Saturday night in Chapel Hill. Harrison Barnes scored 18 points while Kendall Marshall tallied 15 points and 11 assists as the 13th-ranked Tar Heels clinched the ACC regular season championship.
• Raheem Smith hit two free throws with 2.3 seconds remaining and led Shaw to a 72-69 win against Livingstone in the championship game of the CIAA tournament. Smith scored 28 points in the win and was named the MVP of the tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena.
• Jeremy Hazell torched 15th-ranked St. John’s for a season-high 31 points and led Seton Hall to a stunning 84-70 win over the Red Storm at the Prudential Center last week. Seton Hall shot 64.3 percent from the field, was 12-of-18 from beyond the arc and snapped St. Johns’ six-game win streak.