Basketball splits Coca-Cola Classic

The men’s basketball split a two-game tournament this weekend to claim second place and a spot on the all-tournament team at the 40th Annual Blue and Gold Coca-Cola Classic.

The Bearkats pulled out a 80-73 win over Northern Illinois to open their second tournament of the year in Milwaukee, Wis., this weekend.

Although the team outshot NIU from the paint and the line, the Bearkats went into the half down by four points.

But they overcame the deficit in the second half by out shooting NIU from the perimeter and from inside.

Donald Cole, SHSU’s only representative on the all-conference team, had a huge performance in the NIU game, going 8-13 from inside, 1-2 from three-point territory and 10-13 from the line to put 27 points on the board for the Bearkats. Cole was also one of the leading rebounders with eight.

Jay Oliphant and Rodrick Winters also put some big numbers up with 13 and 10 points respectively. Winters had a total of nine rebounds to lead the Bearkats.

SHSU dominated NIU with 14 fast breaks for 28 points, compared to eight Huskies fast breaks for 16 points.

However, the team’s first-round victory would be overshadowed by a second-round blow out against Marquette.

The Bearkats managed to maintain the No. 23 school’s pace in the first half of play and go into the half only five points behind, 30-25, despite a poor shooting performance.

SHSU shot 35.7 percent from inside, 25 percent from outside and 37.5 percent from the line compared to Marquette’s 44.4 percent from two-point territory, 33.3 from three-point territory and 50 percent from the line.

Although the Bearkats improved their shooting in the second half, the Eagles were able to pull away.

Marquette enjoyed an 8-2 run to open the second half.

Once the Eagles got going, the Bearkats were unable to get within nine points the rest of the stretch.

Jason Stephenson led the Bearkats with 15 points. Stephenson was 6-10 from two-point territory and 3-5 from three-point territory.

Oliphant had 12 points against the Huskies, and Robert Shannon had 10.

Cole led the team in rebounds with seven.

The Huskies totaled 20 fast breaks while the Bearkats were limited to only two.

The Bearkats have a week to prepare for the open of Southland Conference play at home against Louisiana-Monroe Dec.13 at 7 p.m. in Johnson Coliseum.

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