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Cougars Stun No. 2 Walsh

December 21, 2009
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Dec. 21, 2009

 

Story courtesy of St. Francis Sports Information

 

FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- University of Saint Francis (Ind.) fans and basketball coach Jeff Rekeweg didn't have any specific requests on their Christmas wish list. So Qadr Owens, DeJovaun Sawyer-Davis and a strong supporting cast filled in the blanks with an 86-75 upset win over 2nd-ranked Walsh (Ohio) University at Hutzell Athletic Center on Friday night (Dec. 18).

 

How about shooting over 50 percent in the second half? The 9-3 Cougars shot .533 hitting 16-of-30 shots and .556 from 3-point range hitting 5-of-9 attempts. USF outscored WU (10-1) 51-36 in the second half.

 

How about 21 second-half points? USF sophomore guard Qadr Owens took care of Rekeweg's next request slashing and finishing for 21 points. He had a hot shooting night hitting 71 percent in the second half on 5-for-7 shooting and nailing 92 percent from the free-throw line on 11-for-12 shooting. Owens finished with a USF career best 29 points in just his 10th game with USF after transferring from IU-South Bend and sitting out the 2008-09 season.

 

What do you think of four 3-pointers? DeJovaun Sawyer-Davis didn't waste anytime shopping for that request nailing 4-of-6 second-half 3-pointers. The Anderson High School grad scored 19 second-half points, finished with 24 for the game including his 1,000th career point for the Cougars in just his 43rd game. He penned his eighth double-double of the season adding 11 rebounds.

 

Would you like some contributions from the bench? Freshman guard Ethan Hussey scored nine points and would finish with 11 off the bench for the Cougars.

 

"Now I know Walsh is the No. 2 team in the country and won 10 straight games because they are a talented, athletic, determined team, so I hope we have the same determination and grit when, if we get a lead and they make a run, we show the improvement and maturity to handle it," Rekeweg said.

 

Freshman Brad Sneary blocked away a WU shot to protect a 70-68 USF lead and Kevin Dawson grabbed the rebound. L.J. Sutton, who scored to cut the USF lead to two, fouled Sawyer-Davis and he hit both free throws with 3:08 to play. The Cavaliers never got any closer with Owens scoring 10 points including 8-for-8 shooting at the free-throw line in the time remaining.

 

"We didn't make any major adjustments at the half," Owens said after the win in the Cougars last home game in 2009. "We just needed to get after it harder in the second half and get those hustle balls. I knew I was going to play more since Austin (Leisure) couldn't play, but Austin really helped me from the bench and saw some things I was able to take advantage of. Coach Rek had talked about me finishing strong and I was able to either slip inside and finish or get the ball to the open man.

 

"You got to have guys stepping up and knocking shots down and everybody contributed tonight," Owens added.

 

WU's All-America forward Ricky Jackson led the Cavaliers (10-1) with 20 points, but the muscular senior only played 28 minutes hampered by foul trouble. Jackson, who came into the game averaging 23.9 point per game, eventually fouled out.

 

Kosiarek opened the second half hitting a 3-pointer at 19:34 to slash the Cavs lead to 39-38 and Owens gave USF a 40-39 lead after Walsh All-American Ricky Jackson missed a 3-pointer. Owens drove the lane and scored at 19:02. Jackson scored on a put-back at 18:13 for a 41-40 Cavs lead, what was their last lead in the game. USF took the lead for good on a rebound jumper by Ferdinand Morales-Soto for 42-41 lead with 17:45 to play in the second half. Owens scored on a fastbreak for a 44-41 lead after two Cescato misses. WU cut the lead to one point twice, but a jumper and then 3-pointer both from Sawyer-Davis pushed the Cougars lead to 51-45 with 13:21 to play. Sawyer-Davis fired in another line drive 3-pointer for a 54-47 lead and USF built a 64-54 lead with 9:22 to play on a Sawyer-Davis 3-pointer.

 

Walsh battled back to within two, 70-68, on Sutton's rebound effort with 4:12 to play.

 

"The way we play defense, guard people full-court all game, it just wears on the other team and wears a team down over time," Sawyer-Davis said. "We ran the floor better in the second half and moved the ball more.

 

Sawyer-Davis and Jackson went head-to-head on several occasions in a rare HAC All-American vs. All-American confrontation and the duo lived up to the billing with Sawyer-Davis securing the advantage -- 40 minutes played, 24 points, 11 rebounds, 8 defensive rebounds, 3 offensive rebounds, 5-for-8 shooting from 3-point range. Jackson finished with 28 minutes, hit 14-of-14 free throws, just 3-for-8 from the field, 0-for-1 from 3-point range, six rebounds including four offensive and two defensive.

 

"He's a real good player, really strong physically, I probably need to hit the weight room to look like (Jackson), but we were able to get him in foul trouble and took him out of his game a little bit," Sawyer-Davis said.

 

If Rekeweg had anything else to add to his Christmas wish list, it would be for a total team effort. Such as limiting  the No. 1 scoring offense in the nation to almost 30 points below their average and to just 36% shooting on the night.  Walsh was averaging 41% as a team from behind the arc and shot 20% in the game due in large part to solid team defense by USF. 

 

"We were more agressive on the defensive end and Joey (Kosiarek) came out and attacked the basket right away to get us going," Sawyer-Davis recalled. "Q played a good game at that point, knowing when to attack the basket and when not to, when to go for the steal and when not to. They weren't picking Q up in transition and he either scored in the paint or got the ball to an open teammate."

 

Sawyer-Davis's 3-point shooting in the second half was crucial to USF's success.

 

"There wasn't that much space, but I've got to know when I've got enough space and when I don't . . . I let them go and they went in," Sawyer-Davis said.

 

He needed 16 points for 1,000 even and he became the 27th St. Francis player to reach that plateau with his big second half. After missing his first two 3-point attempts, he hit a jumper and then three consecutive 3-pointers to reach the 1,000 point plateau.

 

"I knew what I needed for 1,000, but once the game started, all I cared about was winning the game," Sawyer-Davis remarked.

 

In the first half, Walsh broke away from a tie at six with 17:12 to play and led by as many as seven, 19-12, after a Kenny Kornowski bucket at the 11:36 mark. USF used a 7-0 run and tied the game at 19 on a Hussey fast break layup with 10:47 to play. Lamar Skeeter hit two free throws restoring WU's lead with 10 minutes to play. WU took a six-point lead twice before USF rallied and took a 31-30 lead at 3:20 after a Sneary steal and a Kosiarek layup. Hussey regained the lead for USF 33-32 at 2:19, but WU's Kyelce Cescato rebounded a miss and scored with 2:03 for a 34-33 lead. Brandon Speck added a 3-pointer and Sutton a jumper for a 39-33 lead before Hussey’s basket from the wing at the buzzer left USF trailing 39-35 at the half.

 

"They had 11 offensive boards and 15 second-effort points to our one," Rekeweg said. "We were outscored 14 just on second efforts. Defensively, we emphasized better position so that their big guys couldn't just grab it and lay it in. We did a better job of that in the second half. They still got some, but we made them work for them. But to win a game against a team that shoots 31 free throws and shoots 90 percent from the free-throw line, they've got to be frustrated to see they scored 20 points off our turnovers and 23 second-chance points, 43 off our mistakes or their good play.

 

"Q did a great job most of the time of finishing and not worrying about whether there's a foul called on him. I'm very pleased with how he finished with free throws. He got Dey the ball when he got rollin'. We spent a lot of time using ball screens and Joey, Ethan and Q did a nice job of creating opportunities off ball screens.

 

"Even when we had some costly turnovers when they sliced the deficit to two, give our guys credit, we responded positively, and extended the lead back out. We knew they were going to have runs, but we had to string together two, three, four stops and be efficient offensively. If we could do that, we would limit their runs," Rekeweg continued. "This is a good win for us, but this isn't the biggest win we're going to have this year. Right now this was a statement-maker, but we're going have conference games that are much more important than what this game was."