2003 Conference USA Men's Basketball Tournament: March 12-15 in Louisville, KY
CHARLOTTE (13-13, 8-6): A career-high 19 points by EDDIE BASDEN to go with his team-high 9 rebounds was enough for the 49ers to defeat Southern Miss last Wednesday in Charlotte, 77-68. The 49ers came back from an early 7-point deficit, their biggest comeback in a victory this season. On Saturday, while hosting DePaul, it was the Charlotte defense that had the key in an impressive 58-50 win. Basden recorded a school-record 7 steals in the effort as the 49ers won their third straight game overall on Senior Night in Halton Arena.
CINCINNATI (16-9, 8-6): Coming off a thrashing of C-USA rival Louisville the prior weekend, the Bearcats came out flat Wednesday evening at home against East Carolina. With the score tied on UC's final possession, center JASON MAXIELL was fouled and hit the first of two free throws to win the game, 53-52. On Saturday evening, in a nationally-televised primetime match-up on the road, the Bearcats took on Memphis. Despite committing only 5 turnovers for the game, Cincinnati could only manage to shoot 25% from the field and suffered their worst loss in C-USA play ever, 67-48. The loss was also the first ever by the Bearcats to a National Division opponent, a streak of 33 games dating back to the 1998 season.
DEPAUL (14-11, 6-8): Leading throughout most of the first half Wednesday night in Birmingham, DePaul succumbed to a late threat by the host Blazers as they fell to UAB, 77-71. QUEMONT GREER led the Blue Demons with 22 points and 15 rebounds, while SAM HOSKIN scored 15 of his own in the losing effort. Making their final road trip of the regular season on Saturday, DePaul fell to Charlotte 58-50 in Halton arena. Hoskin recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, leading his team in both stat categories.
EAST CAROLINA (11-14, 3-12): Fighting to stay off the conference tournament bubble (only 12 of the 14 C-USA teams are invited to the conference tournament), the Pirates had a prime opportunity on Wednesday night in the Shoemaker Center against Cincinnati. With an ECU defense forcing the Bearcats to shoot only 35% from the field for the game, the Pirates kept it close throughout. Unfortunately, TRAVIS HOLCOMB-FAYE missed a three-pointer as time expired and East Carolina fell 53-52. Coming out on a blazing start Saturday at Louisville, ECU had the Cardinals on their toes for the entire first half and led 36-31 at the break. However, in the second frame, UofL's pressing style got to the Pirates as ECU couldn't come back after a quick opening by the Cards and lost 82-76. The loss was the 16th straight C-USA road setback since the Pirates entered the conference last season.
LOUISVILLE (20-5, 10-4): In a game that all but decided the American Divisional race, the Cardinals hosted Marquette in Freedom Hall on Thursday night. The first 16 minutes were a showcase of how far UofL has come under coach RICK PITINO, pressing, trapping, and shooting. Unfortunately for the Cards, Marquette came roaring back and won the game 78-73. In the second half, junior forward ELLIS MYLES went down with a knee injury and is out for the season after having surgery on Friday. On Saturday morning, the team was hit with another blow as the university decided to sit senior center MARVIN STONE due to his ongoing interrogation by the NCAA. Taking on East Carolina that afternoon without their starting frontcourt, the Cards were aided by a 17-0 run to start the second period and held on for an 82-76 victory. REECE GAINES scored a season-high 30 points in the win.
MARQUETTE (22-4, 13-2): Up by only a half game going into Thursday evening's contest at Louisville, the Golden Eagles knew the game would be a must-win to control their own destiny in the C-USA regular season title race. DWYANE WADE scored 28 points to go with 8 rebounds and 7 assists to lead the Eagles in a 78-73 comeback win in a brutal environment, all but sealing C-USA's Player of the Year Award. Heading back home on Saturday, Marquette faced a hungry UAB team. Clinching their first conference title in nine seasons (1994, Great Midwest Conference), the Eagles handled the Blazers in a convincing 98-87 win. ROBERT JACKSON had 22 points and 10 rebounds, while TRAVIS DIENER recorded a double-double of his own with 14 points and 10 assists.
SAINT LOUIS (13-12, 7-7): With a week off since their last game, the Billikens hosted Tulane Saturday in the Savvis Center. In a thrilling game that came down to the wire 3 different times, SLU survived with a 76-74 double-overtime win. MARQUEE PERRY, who played all 50 minutes, scored a game high 27 points to lead the Bills. CHRIS SLOAN also recorded his first career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds in the winning effort. The win stretched Saint Louis' season-best winning streak to five games and propelled them over the .500 mark for the first time since early January.
ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM (16-9, 8-6): Hosting the Blue Demons of DePaul Wednesday night in Birmingham, MORRIS FINLEY scored 16 points while DEMARIO EDDINS tallied 10 points, 8 rebounds, and a career-high 7 assists in a 77-71 victory over the Blue Demons. The win was the Blazers fourth in their last five games and also their fourth straight win over DePaul. On Saturday, UAB visited Milwaukee to take on Marquette. Despite the Blazer defense forcing 21 turnovers and 14 steals in the contest, the Golden Eagles were still too much for UAB, who lost 98-87. Five UAB players scored in double figures, led by Finley's 31 points.
HOUSTON (8-17, 6-8): Although ANDRE OWENS scored a team-high 20 points on Wednesday evening for the Cougars at Tulane, UH lost a second half lead and the game, 56-52. Coming home on Saturday for a match-up with in-state rival TCU, the Cougars owned the paint with Owen scoring 22 points while JEREMEE McGUIRE and LOUIS TRUSCOTT both turned in double-double performances in a 75-57 thrashing of the Horned Frogs. Houston's dominance in the paint was the difference, with UH outscoring TCU 44-28 down low.
MEMPHIS (20-5, 11-3): With just entering the national polls this past week, Memphis was looking for a good showing on Wednesday in the Pyramid against TCU. Sophomore guard BILLY RICHMOND, a transfer from Vanderbilt who is known mostly for his hustle and defensive effort, hit 4 three-pointers to lead the Tigers to an 88-64 romp of the Frogs. Visiting the Pyramid on Saturday night for an ESPN-televised match-up was rival Cincinnati. Despite being in serious foul trouble early in the first half, CHRIS MASSIE emerged in the second frame, finishing with 23 points and 8 rebounds in a 67-48 win. ANTONIO BURKS also added 12 points for the Tigers, who have won 9 straight games.
SOUTH FLORIDA (13-12, 6-8): The USF basketball team had a week off after their loss last weekend in Memphis, returning to the court Saturday at the Reed Green Coliseum in Hattiesburg to take on Southern Miss. REGGIE KOHN tied a season-high with 21 points, but the Bulls fell to the Eagles, 70-62. WILL McDONALD added 19 points and 9 rebounds in the 8-point loss, while JIMMY BAXTER also hit double digits scoring-wise with 10 points of his own.
SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (12-14, 5-10): Halton Arena in Charlotte was the destination for the Golden Eagle basketball team on Wednesday evening as they took on the 49ers in an interdivisional game. Leading most of the first half, Southern Miss couldn't find many ways of scoring against a tough Charlotte defense and dropped the game 77-68. CHARLES GAINES led the team in scoring with 19 points and JAMES PATTMAN recorded a career-high 11 points in the losing effort. Saturday was Senior Night in Hattiesburg, and MARIO MYLES, the team's only senior, was honored before the game, his 100th career one for the Eagles. JASPER JOHNSON scored 16 points (13 in the first half) as USM assured themselves of a birth in the C-USA Tournament with a 70-62 win over South Florida.
TEXAS CHRISTIAN (8-19, 2-13): The Horned Frogs were looking to pull of an upset of a Top 25 team on Wednesday night in Memphis. However, TCU lost for the 13th time in 15 games in an 88-64 setback to the Tigers. COREY SANTEE scored 14 points and added 7 assists in a game where Memphis lead by as much as 30 in the second half. The Frogs took a short trip on Saturday to Houston for a game with the Cougars. JUNIOR BLOUNT scored 22 points while JAMAL BROWN added 10 more, but Houston's frontcourt was superior to TCU's in a 75-57 loss.
TULANE (14-13, 7-7): On
Wednesday night in Fogelman Arena in New Orleans, IVAN PJEVCEVIC hit four
three-point shots in the second half as the Green Wave came back to defeat
Houston 56-52. BRANDON BROWN also had a big contribution with 12 points and 9
rebounds. With a trip to Saint Louis on Saturday, the Green Wave played a solid
game, but couldn't come up with the big plays down the stretch in a second
overtime period and lost a 76-74 heartbreaker. BRANDON SPANN paced the Wave with
16 points and 6 assists in the setback.
PATRICK CRUSH'S FIVE-STAR GAMES OF THE WEEK
FIVE STARS: Cincinnati (15-7, 7-6) vs. Marquette (22-4, 13-2) (Saturday, 1:30 PM)
FOUR STARS: Memphis (20-5, 11-3) vs. Alabama-Birmingham (15-9, 7-6) (Saturday, 2:00 PM)
THREE STARS: Charlotte (11-13, 6-6) vs. Louisville (20-5, 10-4) (Saturday, 7:00 PM)
TWO STARS: Tulane (13-12, 6-6) vs. South Florida (13-11, 6-7) (Wednesday, 7:00 PM)
ONE STAR: Alabama-Birmingham (15-9, 7-6) vs. Cincinnati (15-9, 7-6) (Wednesday, 8:05 PM)