Dec. 17, 2008

By Amy Farnum Novin

NORTHERN LIGHT:  Northern State University’s cracked the NABC Division II Top 25 for the first time this season in No. 23 spot after improving to 9-1 with two Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference wins last week, including an upset of then-No. 6 Minnesota State on Dec. 13.

Senior Kevin Ratzsch, the NSIC Preseason Player of the Year, lived up to expectations last week as he averaged 24.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in the two wins.  He began with a team-high 19 points against Southwest Minnesota State, and followed it up with a 30-point, 10-rebound performance against Minnesota State.  The native of Bloomington, Ill., collected his second NSIC Player of the Week award for his efforts.

The Wolves’ victory also marked the 900th career win for NSU head coach Don Meyer.  He is only the second NCAA men’s coach to accomplish the feat and needs only three victories to surpass Bob Knight’s record for most career wins.

SAINTLY BEHAVIOR: No. 19 Saint Martin’s extended its winning streak to 10 games with a 93-81 victory at Hawaii Pacific on Dec. 16 behind Jake Linton’s 35-point performance.

The senior guard from Lynnwood, Wash., now has nine career 30-point games after contributing the highest point total of the season in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.   Linton leads the league with 23.8 points per game.

The Saints are riding their first-ever double-digit winning streak in GNAC history.  They will look to stretch the streak at Hawaii-Hilo on Dec. 18.

GO-TO GUY: Le Moyne junior Laurence Ekperigin picked up his second Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Week honors in the last three weeks after nearly breaking the school’s single-game scoring record with a 40-point outing against Saint Michael’s last week.

The native of Cortlandt Manor, N.Y., knocked down 15-of-17 field goal attempts and 10-of-14 free throws in the contest, while grabbing 15 rebounds.  Ekperigin continued his stellar play this week with 20 points and 12 rebounds in a 71-66 win over Caldwell College on Dec. 16. 

Ekperigin paces the NE-10 with 11.3 rebounds per game and a .711 field goal percentage.  He also leads the Dolphins and ranks fourth in the league with 17.4 points per game.

REVENGE FACTOR: Johnson C. Smith avenged its only loss of the season with a 69-65 win over previously unbeaten and then-No. 23 Elizabeth City State on Dec. 13 for the Golden Bulls’ third straight victory.

Senior guard Ryan Scott tallied 20 points against ECSU as JCSU handed the Vikings their first loss at home since Feb. 24, 2007.  The native of Reston, Va., averaged 15 points for the week, earning Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Player of the Week honors.

NOTABLE:  Despite enjoying a week off, Missouri Southern vaulted up four spots in the NABC Division II Top 25 to No. 14 after debuting in the rankings last week at No. 18.  The Lions are 9-0 for just the second time in program history after knocking off then-No. 22 Central Missouri on Dec. 6.  Southern will resume play on Dec. 18 at the Lexmark/Puerto Rico Holiday Tournament … Harding University garnered its first-ever regular season national ranking this week, appearing at No. 24 after starting the season with an 8-1 mark.  The Bison have won a school-record eight games following an upset of then-No. 15 North Alabama on Dec. 13.  Sophomore forward Kevin Brown was named Gulf South Conference West Division Player of the Week for averaging 21.5 points in wins over Alabama-Huntsville and UNA at the Harding Classic last weekend.