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February 24, 2013

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Favored IU Southeast escapes with KIAC first-round win

Grenadier women also move on to semifinals; Banet sends Red Wolves to New Albany

NEW ALBANY — It’s not March just yet but a heavily favored Indiana college basketball team had a scare in the first round of its conference tournament Saturday afternoon.

IU Southeast — the No. 1 seed in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament — overcame a nine-point second-half deficit and defeated Alice Lloyd College 77-68.

The Grenadiers (25-4), who have won five straight KIAC tournament titles, will host the Cincinnati Christian University Eagles Monday at 6 p.m. in the one tourney semifinal.

IU Southeast’s last loss was at CCU, 69-63 on Feb. 5.

“CCU tries to slow the ball down and dig it in to their bigs,” Grenadiers head coach Wiley Brown said. “It’s going to be a tough matchup for us. We split with them during the season. It’s going to be a good game Monday.”

Alice Lloyd (11-19) did all it could to give IU Southeast Monday night off.

The Eagles led by as many as 10 in the first half and rode their hot shooting to a 39-31 lead at intermission. The Grenadiers, who average 88 points per game, were unable to get their high-powered offense into gear against the methodical Eagles’ offense.

“They controlled the tempo on us, but I thought we took some bad shots in the first half and that’s out of character for our guys,” Brown admitted. “They were hitting everything. They shot 65 percent in the first half. We shot 57 percent and were down eight points.

“Anytime you shoot 57 percent you think you should be up. I tell you this, they hit some tough shots. You have to just give your hats off to Alice Lloyd. They came here to play.”

IU Southeast rode the back of Jeffersonville product Terence Billups in the second half. Billups, who led his team with 16 points, hit back-to-back 3’s to tie the game at 58-58 with 6:15 left. Two possessions later, a pair of Cameron Mitchell free throws gave the home team the lead for good at 62-61 with 5:33 remaining.

“We lived to see another day,” Brown said. “Terence didn’t play high school basketball, but the kid is talented. You saw how he hit those big shots today. He helped us out tremendously.”

The Grenadiers forced 17 Alice Lyoyd turnovers and shot 70 percent from the field in the second half en route to their third win over the Eagles this season.

“Our pressure just wore them down,” Brown said. “No matter whether they were making shots or not, we kept up our pressure. Eventually that’s going to wear teams down. They got a little tired and that’s how we got some turnovers.”

While IU Southeast came out tentative and flat Saturday, the tournament favorites won’t have time for that in Monday night’s semifinals versus CCU. The Eagles held the Grenadiers to 36 percent shooting and a season scoring low less than three weeks ago.

“I sure hope we got this coming out flat stuff out of our system today,” Brown said. “We can’t afford to do that Monday. I think back to our championship run at the University of Louisville in 1980 and we had some struggles early on in the tournament because we were tight.

“But when we did advance, every struggle we overcame helped us in the next game.”

If IU Southeast beat Cincinnati Christian, it will host the KIAC Tournament championship Tuesday night at 6 p.m. against either Asbury or IU East.

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