Illini Defeat Carleton in Overtime, 74-72

OTTAWA, CANADA--The Fighting Illini began their Labor Day weekend exhibition tour of Canada by taking on Carleton University, the five-time defending CIS national champions. In a hotly contested game, Illinois prevailed in overtime, winning 74-72 in front of a sellout crowd of 1,500.

The game was played by NCAA rules and not international rules, so the standard lane size and 3-point arc were in effect. Three Illini scored in double figures, led by Steve Holdren's 15 points on 6-10 shooting, including 3-5 from 3-point range. Shaun Pruitt had 13 points and six rebounds, while Rodney Alexander added 11 points. Freshman Demetri McCamey also played strong, scoring eight points while registering a team-high seven rebounds and game-high five assists.  

Aaron Doornekamp led Carleton with a game-high 20 points, while J-E Jean-Marie had 15 points and Kevin McCleery added 11.  

Illinois led 33-28 at the break and opened up a nine-point advantage early in the second half. Carleton came back, grabbing a 51-50 lead with less than 11 minutes left. The Illini then went on a 12-2 run to take another nine-point lead at 62-53 with just over six minutes remaining. Carleton had one more run left, however, outscoring the Illini 11-2 the rest of the way to knot the game at 64-all. Both teams had opportunities to win in regulation, but Chester Frazier missed a pair of free throws with :25 left and Carleton's Stuart Turnbull missed a jumper just before the buzzer.  

The teams began overtime by twice trading baskets. With the game tied at 68, McCamey split two defenders and drove the lane, drawing a foul. He hit both free throws to make it 70-68 with 2:30 left. Kevin McCleery then scored on an offensive to tie it at 70.  

Shaun Pruitt and Aaron Doornekamp traded free throws to create the game's final tie at 71 apiece. With 40 seconds left, McCamey penetrated and found Alexander, who hit the biggest shot of the night, a 3-pointer that made it 74-71 and served as the eventual game winner. Turnbull made one free throw with :32 remaining and after Alexander missed a pair of free throws, the Illini defense made a successful stand during the final 30 seconds of overtime. Carleton called three timeouts on their final possession and after a miss by Jean-Marie with two seconds left, McCamey secured the defensive board to seal the victory.


While 15 players are on the trip this weekend, only 11 are playing. Bill Cole is out after hurting his shoulder in practice on Monday, and Brian Randle is also out after hurting his hamstring in practice on Wednesday. Freshmen Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis, meanwhile, are not playing during the exhibition tour to preserve their opportunity for a redshirt. No decision has been made at this time, but because of the rule stating that a player cannot participate in a foreign tour and then redshirt, these players are sitting out as a precaution.

Steve Holdren, tonight's leading scorer, missed the final seven minutes of regulation and all of overtime after spraining his ankle.

The four Illini newcomers that played tonight combined for 40 points.

The trip originally called for five games, but due to the low numbers after taking into account the injuries and freshmen that are sitting out, Illinois decided to cancel it's final game vs. the Canadian Military Select on Monday and will instead play four games this weekend.

Illini orange was present throughout the crowd, and over a dozen media from Ottawa and Toronto were on hand to interview Jeff Jordan following the game.

The original schedule had Saturday's game vs. the University of Ottawa at Noon Central Time, but it has been moved up one hour to 11 a.m. CT. Immediately following the game vs. Ottawa, the Illini will bus to Montreal.

Illinois returned to the hotel at 11:45 p.m. local time and must be checked out of the hotel and on its way to the University of Ottawa Sports Complex in 11 hours.

PLAY OF THE GAME: With :40 seconds left in overtime and the game tied at 71-71, Demetri McCamey drove and spotted Rodney Alexander looping behind him. McCamey fired the ball to Alexander, who hit a rhythm 3-pointer, giving the UI a 74-71 lead.


On Carleton…

"They did a good job. They're well coached and you can see why they have a successful program. Last year Louisville came up here over Labor Day and Carleton was winning late before Louisville got a steal and hit a layup to win by one. So that gives you an idea of how competitive they are. They knew more about us than we did about them. They obviously scouted us and were prepared to double team Shaun and even triple team him at times. They also went with a small lineup quite a bit, so defensively we had to make some adjustments"

On winning a close game…

"One of the things we talked about before this trip and mentioned tonight in the huddle is making plays down the stretch to win close games. You look back at last year and how many close games we had that didn't go our way, losing nine games where we led in the second half. We've got to improve on that this year. Our new kids stepped up and made some plays. Steve hit some shots; you feel bad for him that he got hurt and had to come out when we was playing well. We want to go inside to Shaun first, but they did a great job of taking that away. So what we had was Demetri making a couple key plays, Jeff giving us a spark and playing great defense and Rodney getting a clutch put back and making the big three at the end. Tonight was very reminiscent of the last time we went on a foreign tour trip. Our first year at Illinois, we played Sweden in our first game and had to gut it out with Luther Head hitting a game-winning 3-pointer."

On the play of freshman Demetri McCamey…

"He's very talented. He's deceptive athletically, plays a lot like Deron Williams. He uses his body well and changes speeds to get by people. He's still learning, but he's already shown that he can create scoring opportunities and make plays, and that's what we're looking for out of him this year."

Game story by Illinois Press Release    

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