Feb. 3, 2009

By Amy Farnum Novin

BEAR TRACKS: Second-ranked Washington (Mo.) University completed the first half of University Athletic Association play with a flawless record after picking up two more league wins last weekend.  With seven games to play in the regular season, the Bears hold a two-game lead over Brandeis University.

The defending NCAA champion turned back Brandeis with an 80-75 defeat on Jan. 30 as the Bears were led by junior guard Aaron Thompsons’s 18 points and five rebounds.  Thompson followed it up with a game-high 29 points in Washington’s 67-56 victory over NYU two days later for his sixth outing this season with 20 or more points.

Thompson garnered UAA Athlete of the Week for his contributions as the Bears extended their winning streak to eight games.   He ranks second in the league with an 18.6 scoring average, and third in the UAA with a 46.5 three-point field goal percentage.

STREAKING:  John Carroll University took a share of the lead in the Ohio Athletic Conference standings as the Blue Streaks rallied for an 83-75 victory over then-No. 5 Capital University on Jan. 31. 

Capital’s 11-game winning streak ended, while JCU stretched its’ to 10 games – the program’s longest winning streak since a 13 consecutive wins in 2004-05.  JCU’s Rudy Kirbus led the Blue Streaks with 23 points in the victory. 
On the merits of their lengthy winning streak and upset of Capital, the Blue Streaks landed at No. 24 in the latest D3hoops.com Top 25.

BONNER DAY: Guilford College grabbed a share of first place in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference standings after knocking off the league’s top two teams last week.

Junior guard Rhett Bonner led all scorers with 21 points in a win over Roanoke College on Jan. 28, and followed it up with a career-high 23 points as the Quakers beat first-place Randolph-Macon over the weekend.  The native of Yadkinville, N.C., connected on 19-of-21 free throws, while averaging 4.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds for the week.  He was named ODAC Player of the Week for his efforts.  Bonner is third in the league with 2.74 three-pointers per game and a 44.1 three-point field goal percentage.

The Quakers are currently tied with Randolph-Macon for first place in the league standings.

FLYING HIGH: Elmhurst took sole possession of first place in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin standings after winning its sixth consecutive league game last weekend. 

The Bluejays, who started 0-2 in CCIW play, began the week with a 20-point victory at Carthage behind senior center Brent Ruch’s double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds. 

Ruch followed it up with 31 points and 10 rebounds in the Bluejay’s 98-92 win over Illinois Wesleyan on Jan. 31.  The native of Farmer City, Ill., collected his third CCIW Player of the Week nod this season after shooting 76.2 from the field for the week. 

The No. 15 Bluejays take on second-place Augustana for a crucial CCIW match-up on Feb. 4.

NOTABLE:  Farmingdale State head coach Erik Smiles picked up his 100th career victory as he guided the Rams to a 77-62 win over City Tech last week.  Smiles has compiled a 100-33 (.752) record in five seasons, and has led the Rams to a pair of Skyline Conference titles … Worcester Polytech’s Jerome Kirkland was named New England Women’s & Men’s Athletic Conference Player of the Week after handing MIT its first loss in league action last week.  The senior guard from Boston, Mass., averaged 14.5 points on 60 percent shooting as the Engineers also downed Coast Guard.  WPI is now 7-0 in conference play, and cracked the latest D3hoops.com Top 25 at No. 22 … Willamette senior Kyler McClary needs just five points to reach the 1,000-point career mark after averaging 20.5 points in a 1-1 week for the Bearcats.  He was named Northwest Conference Player of the Week for his contributions.