March 5, 2019 / No. 2 Trailblazers cruise past Shawnee in postseason opener
INA, Ill. – The second-ranked Vincennes University men’s basketball
team opened the postseason with a bang, winning 87-58 over Shawnee in
the quarterfinals of the NJCAA Division I District 16 Tournament on Tuesday.
Sophomore Keith Clemons scored a game-high 20 points for the
top-seeded Trailblazers at Rend Lake College. Sophomore Lony Francis
Jr. added 19 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Sophomore George
Dixon contributed 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Freshmen Craig
Porter and Kevin Osawe scored 11 points apiece. Osawe and freshman
Colton Sandage both finished with five rebounds.
With Tuesday’s victory, the Trailblazers hit the 30-win mark for the
third consecutive season. They own a 30-1 overall record heading into
VU and No. 8 seed Shawnee opened the tournament with a contest that
began at 2 p.m. EST.
“It’s always an odd game to play in the early afternoon and the first
game of the tournament,” VU Hall of Fame coach Todd Franklin said. “I
thought our guys came out pretty sharp for that game. We play in it
almost every year and it’s a hard game to play. Our guys did a pretty
good job and our sophomores, Clemons, Dixon and Francis, were all
ready to play. They led us today.”
Dixon scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half. Francis had 11 of
his 19 points before halftime. Clemons poured in 11 of his 20 points
prior to the break. Those strong first-half efforts helped propel VU
to a 44-23 halftime lead.
“We did a pretty good job taking over from the very beginning,”
Franklin said. “Defensively we were good. We moved the ball, got some
shots early and got a lead. We really controlled it the whole way.
“It was a pretty good performance for day one. Defensively, there was
nothing new, but we were a little bit more locked in maybe early in
the game than we had been the last time we played Shawnee about a week
ago. That kind of set the tone. We probably would have held them below
50 points. We subbed late and had some guys that don’t play a lot in,
and they scored a few points against them. We probably could have held
them below 50 if we had kept the other guys in the game. Anytime you
do that, you’re playing good defense. We were simply getting down and
moving our feet. It wasn’t really anything special. Just some effort.
When we are locked in defensively, we’re pretty good and today we were
pretty locked in for the first 25-30 minutes of the game.”
The Trailblazers, who finished the regular season No. 2 in the
Division I national poll, are focused. They have 15 straight victories
and are vying for the automatic bid to the national tournament that
comes with winning the District 16 tourney. VU has made six
consecutive national tournament appearances since 2013, setting the
VU is on to the District 16 tournament semifinals. The Trailblazers
will play No. 5 seed Kaskaskia on Wednesday, March 6 at 6 p.m. EST.
Kaskaskia set up its meeting with VU by defeating No. 4 seed Olney
Central 94-91 in a quarterfinal Tuesday. Olney Central is the only
team that has beaten VU this season.
The Trailblazers defeated Kaskaskia twice in the regular season. They
won 98-92 in overtime on Dec. 8 and posted a 70-57 victory on Feb. 9.
“Kaskaskia has played us two good games this year,” Franklin said.
“They had a really good win today beating a good Olney team. We’ll
have challenges, but today was a good start for us.”
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MARCIA MARTINEZ, University Life Reporter & Sports
812-888-4164 office, 314-599-1519 cell,
TRAVIS DAVID, Assistant Sports Information Director
812-888-6831 office, email@example.com
VINCENNES UNIVERSITY, Department of University Relations, www.vinu.edu/newsroom