Feb. 4, 2009

By Amy Farnum Novin

POWER SURGE: The University of Central Missouri vaulted six spots up the latest NABC Division II poll to No. 12 after claiming sole possession of first place in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association standings with a pair of league victories last week.

Junior forward Sanijay Watts began the week with 22 points and five rebounds in a 79-68 win over Missouri Southern on Jan. 28, and then turned in his first career double-double with 24 points and a career-best 11 rebounds as the Mules defeated Pittsburg State, 73-62, on the road over the weekend.  It was the fifth time this year Watts has netted at least 20 points in a contest.

The native of St. Louis, Mo., shot 57.1 percent from the field for the week, and was named MIAA Player of the Week for his contributions.

The Mules are tied for Southwest Baptist for the league-lead with a 10-3 mark.

BEYOND THE ARC:  Florida Southern stretched its winning streak to 13 games with help of Rion Rayfield’s stellar long-range shooting performance.

After not really factoring into the Moccasins’ 69-62 win over Nova Southeastern on Jan. 28, Rayfield exploded for a career-high 38 points in a 102-90 victory over previous Sunshine State Conference co-leader Rollins College on Jan. 31.  The sophomore guard from Burlington, Wis., tied the school single-game record for three-point field goals made with 11.

As a team, the Mocs set a school-record with 22 three-pointers mad, surpassing the previous mark of 16.  Rayfield shot 55 percent from three-point range for the week, earning SSC Player of the Week for the second consecutive week. 

CLIMBING UP: Georgia College & State University continued its winning ways last week with a pair of Peach Belt Conference wins, including an upset of then-No. 7 Augusta State on Jan. 31.

Senior guard Shaun Keaton led the Bobcats with 15 points in a defeat of Columbus State on Jan. 28, and followed it up with 23 points and a career-high nine rebounds as GCSU surprised Augusta State, 79-76.  The native of Albany, Ga., was named Peach Belt Conference Player of the Week for his efforts – the first GCSU player to receive the award this season.

The Bobcats are tied with USC Aiken for first place in the PBC standings with a 10-2 record, and jumped up seven spots to No. 17 in the latest national rankings.  GCSU has won seven straight games – all against league opponents.

VIKING VICTORIES: Western Washington grabbed the reins of the top spot in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference standings for the first time in three seasons after notching a pair of league wins last week.

Senior guard Ira Graham tallied 28 points in an overtime win versus Northwest Nazarene and followed it up with 11 in an 83-76 victory over Saint Martin’s to help the Vikings improve to 5-1 in GNAC play.  Graham scored the game-tying basket to send the contest against Northwest Nazarene into overtime and was named the league’s Co-Player of the Week for his performance.

The native of Fontana, Calif., ranks sixth in the league with a 17.8 scoring average, and is 13th in the conference with a 54.8 field goal percentage.  Graham is one of five starters scoring in double-figures for the Vikings.

The Vikings have won three straight games, and seven of their last eight contests.  They are the first team listed receiving votes in the latest national poll.