Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - The third-seed and host Chicago State Cougars
will battle the fourth-seed Houston Baptist Huskies in the Great West
Tournament Championship game at the Jones Convocation Center.
The winner on Saturday receives an automatic bid to the Collegeinsider.com
Chicago State had just nine wins during the regular season but earned a 63-55
upset victory against top-seed Texas-Pan American in the semifinal round on
Friday night. The win was actually the second straight for the Cougars who
just topped Houston Baptist in the regular-season finale last Saturday.
A pair of free throws with two seconds left in regulation were the difference
for the Huskies as they knocked off top-seed NJIT in the semifinals. The win
was the 10th in the last 12 games for the Huskies who are just 14-16 overall.
Houston Baptist is returning to the title game for the first time since its
appearance in the inaugural season in 2010.
Chicago State also collected a win against the Huskies in a meeting at the
Jones Convocation Center on Jan. 14 to sweep the season series and take a 7-4
advantage all-time against the Huskies.
Art Bernardi had a fantastic final 20 seconds for the Huskies as he blocked a
shot from Chris Flores with 13 ticks remaining and then got fouled on a final
shot attempt to go to the line for the winning free throws. Bernardi had game-
highs in points (18) and rebounds (8) in the win.
The Huskies are a fairly mediocre offensive squad. They are scoring just 64.1
points per game, while shooting at a 41.6 percent clip from the field, among
the 100 worst marks in the country. Bernardi (14.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg) is a solid
performer in the frontcourt and has been carrying the Huskies all season. The
6-foot-9 forward had posted a double-double in each of the last two games and
has had eight total on the campaign. With Tyler Russell (11.4 ppg) out since
earlier in the season the Huskies are without a real second option as reserve
Rob Lewis (8.0 ppg) is the next best scorer.
A balanced attack from the Cougars carried them over Texas-Pan American on
Friday. Nate Duhon netted 13 points as the only player in double figures but
five others had at least eight points, including Matt Ross who also ripped
down 10 boards.
Chicago State has not been a particularly strong offensive team this season
either. The Cougars are scoring only 64.7 points per game and shooting at a
40.1 percent rate from the field. The Cougars couple their lackluster
offensive efforts by allowing opponents to put in 68.9 points per game and net
44.4 percent from he floor. Balance isn't something new for the squad as
Quinton Pippen (10.4 ppg) enters the contest as the only player averaging in
double figures, although Ross (9.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Jamere Dismukes (9.3 ppg)
are among four others putting in at least 7.7 points per game.
The Sports Network