Bearcats Headed to Maui Championship Game

Cincinnati Bearcat coach Mick Cronin could not have asked for a better start to the 2009/10 season. The Bearcats are now 4-0 after beating a ranked team for the second consecutive night out in Maui, as Cincinnati dropped the 21st ranked Maryland Terrapins 69-57.

The Bearcats defense was suffocating, holding the terrapins to just 35 percent from the field and 14 percent from behind the three point line. Cincinnati also outrebounded the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) opponent 47-33, the fourth straight game the Bearcats have done that to their opponent.

Offensively the Bearcats made some mistakes against the Maryland press, but did a nice job for most of the game handling the pressure. The Bearcats had a decent day from the field going 27-61, 44 percent, but still struggle from three point range hitting on just 4-of-17, 24-percent.

Cincinnati showed improvement tonight on the offensive end with their patience and ball movement but still have a little bit of ways to go before their as solid as they could be as Yancy Gates still needs more touches underneath the basket.

Cashmere Wright and Deonta Vaughn stepped up big knocking down free throws, which is big late in games as the starting backcourt combined to go 8-9 from the free throw line.

Cincinnati was led by Gates who led all Bearcat scorers scoring 17 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. The 13 rebounds are a career high for the Cincinnati-Withrow product and former Parade All-American, three of which came on the offensive end. Gates also showed his vast improvement on the offensive end of the floor for the second straight night, going 7-of-11 from the field, 64-percent.

In great news for the Bearcats, Deonta Vaughn stepped up big scoring 16 points to go with four assists against Maryland. Following a frustrating night on Monday where the Bearcats senior was filled with frustration and foul trouble against Vanderbilt that limited him to just eight points on 1-of-3 shooting, to go with four personal fouls and four turnovers. Vaughn will have to step up big Wednesday night, against either Gonzaga or Wisconsin for the Bearcats to have a good chance to win.

Both Dion Dixon and Rashad Bishop had strong performances against Maryland. Dixon scored eight points, on 4-7 shooting and grabbed five rebounds, four of which where on the offensive end. Bishop who started for the second consecutive night had another solid night scoring five points, grabbed seven rebounds, and had two steals and two blocks in 34 minutes.

As for the freshman update, Lance Stephenson who was named big east freshman of the week yesterday, had his most solid night as a Bearcat scoring eleven points on five of nine shooting, grabbed eight rebounds, four assists and also added two steals. Cashmere Wright struggled with foul trouble and from the floor going 1 of 6 for six points and zero assists in just 16 minutes of action. Jaquon Parker's minutes continue to rise as he played 16 minutes tonight, scoring two points and grabbing four rebounds.

On Wednesday night at the Bearcats will play the winner of the Gonzaga Bulldogs, Wisconsin Badgers semifinal at 10 pm eastern time. Cincinnati leads the all-time meeting with Wisconsin five to one, the last meeting a Wisconsin win on March 17, 1994 80-72. Gonzaga and Cincinnati have met just twice, both schools have won one, the last match up a Gonzaga 74-69 win in 2003.

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