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February 20, 2014

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: IUS Beats Brescia 83-64 on Senior Night

Seniors shine for Grenadiers

NEW ALBANY — The high-powered offense of IU Southeast was held in check Wednesday night, but that didn’t slow down the NAIA Division II second-ranked Grenadiers on Senior Night.

The home team posted its 16th-straight win with a 83-64 KIAC victory over Brescia at the IU Southeast Activities Building.

The Grenadiers, who average 97 points per game this season, were held to their second-lowest point output of the season by the Bearcats.

So what do great teams do? They turn to their defense.

IU Southeast (21-3, 16-0 KIAC) held Brescia to 31 percent shooting and forced 21 turnovers to stay perfect in the KIAC.

“When you’re ranked second in the nation, teams are going to give you their best shot and that’s the way it should be,” IU Southeast head coach Wiley Brown said.

Just eight days ago the Grenadiers smoked the Bearcats 104-77 at Brescia (15-10, 9-6).

“They didn’t do anything different tonight defensively,” Brown said. “We just didn’t shoot well. We took some bad shots, trying to shoot over the defense. When we really get going we drive and kick to open shooters who normally knock down those shots.”

The visitors hung tough early, trailing just 14-10 at the 13:04 mark of the first half. After a timeout, the Grenadiers promptly posted a 13-2 run capped by a driving bucket by leading scorer Cameron Mitchell. The spurt gave the host a 27-12 lead with 8:47 left till intermission.

The hosts, who won their 32nd-straight home game, pushed their lead to 19 at halftime and held Brescia to 25 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes of play. Despite the sharp defensive numbers, coach Brown wasn’t that satisfied with his team guarding the ball.

“I really wasn’t that happy with our defense. We had a defensive plan tonight to trap all of their wing ball screens and we didn’t do that very well,” he said. “So I was disappointed in that and our rebounding wasn’t up to par. They outrebounded us and that just shouldn’t happen as long and athletic as we are. Guys were just ball watching tonight.”

It was another day at the office in the balanced scoring column for IU Southeast. The Grenadiers, who have seven players averaging double figures for the season, had five with 10 or more points, led by Veron Payne and Kevin Mitchel each with 13. Mitchell also had seven rebounds, four steals and three assists and Payne had five of the Grenadiers’ 12 blocked shots.

IU Southeast said goodbye to five seniors, led by three-year letter winner Keegan Clark. A Jeffersonville product transferred from Wright State after his freshman season and has been a centerpiece of the Grenadiers success.

“I love to talk about Keegan Clark,” a beaming Brown said. “He’s been great to IU Southeast. He really has. This kid has DI talent. He was at a DI school and transferred here. He could have went many other places, but he came here and stayed here and believed in me and our program, and I’m just so proud of the progress he’s made as a basketball player and a young man.”

Clark, a psychology major, was as humble after his final home game as he was when he arrived on campus three years ago.

“My time here flew by, just like it flew by in high school,” Clark said. “I grew up a lot both on the court and off the court.”

When asked about his team’s chances in the national tournament, you wouldn’t have thought Clark was the senior leader on the second-ranked team in the nation.

“We still have to win the conference tournament,” Clark said. “We just have to stay humble and hungry.”

IU Southeast ends its regular season Saturday at Saint Louis Pharmacy.

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