Nov. 26, 2008

By Amy Farnum Novin

A COMMON THREAD:  University of South Carolina Aiken senior forward Chris Commons began the new college basketball season right where he left off last year as the 2007-08 Peach Belt Co-Player of the Year sparked the Pacers to a 3-0 record last week.

The native of Toledo, Ohio, averaged 23 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in the Pacers’ first three contests of the season, including a win over 2007 Division II national champion Barton, and then-No. 21 Mount Olive in the 43rd annual Pickle Classic.

Commons, who claimed the first PBC weekly award this season, ranks second in the league in scoring and eighth in the conference in rebounding for the No. 2 Pacers.

USCA enjoys a two-week hiatus before the Pacers resume their schedule with a PBC contest at Armstrong Atlantic State on Dec. 6.

STARTING STRONG:  Southwest Minnesota State tied the school record for the program’s best start with a 4-0 mark following a 78-73 victory over North Dakota last weekend.  The 1998-99 squad also began the season with a perfect record in their first four games.

With the stellar start, SMSU earned its first national ranking since 2001 as they cracked the NABC Division II Top 25 at No. 19 this week. 

The Mustangs will test their new national ranking at the inaugural Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Holiday HoopsFest in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Nov. 29-30. 

TWICE AS NICE:  Brigham Young University Hawaii vaulted eight spots in the latest NABC Division II poll to No. 15 after surprising defending national champion and eighth-ranked Winona State with a pair of victories in two games last weekend.

Following a two-point win in the first game, the Seasiders downed the Warriors by 12 in the next contest.  Junior forward Lucas Alves, the PacWest Conference Preseason Player of the Year, contributed 27 points in both games. 

NO PROBLEM, HOUSTON: After being selected South Atlantic Conference Player of the Week, Catawba junior guard Antonio Houston continued his stellar play with a game-high 20 points in an 86-83 victory over St. Augustine’s on Nov. 24 to improve to 4-0 on the season.

The native of Charlotte, N.C., has averaged 20 points per game to propel the Indians to a No. 23 ranking in the latest NABC Division II Top 25.  He is currently fifth in the SAC in scoring.

NOTABLE:  No. 13 Bentley University cruised to 40th consecutive home court victory with a 96-67 defeat of Bridgeport on Nov. 25.  Junior guard Jason Westrol was one of five Falcons in double-figures with a game-high 23 points … Clarion guard Aaron Trail netted the game-winning basket in a 94-92 overtime victory against Wheeling Jesuit on Nov. 23, giving the Golden Eagles their fourth consecutive overtime win.  Trail scored 13 points in a 4-for-4 shooting performance after not scoring in Clarion’s first two contests of the season.  The native of Twinsburg, Ohio, garnered Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Freshman of the Week for his efforts.  The Golden Eagles have won their last two games by two points or less, only the third time in head coach Ron Righter’s 21-year tenure that Clarion has accomplished the feat.