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VU Trailblazers hang on for 73-69 nail-biter win at Southwestern Illinois to go 19-0 on season
 January 22, 2013

BELLEVILLE, Ill. – The Vincennes University Men’s Basketball Team endured a series of furious comebacks by host Southwestern Illinois Monday night and sophomore guard Jeremiah Williams hit a pair of pressure-packed free throws with four seconds remaining to help the fourth-ranked Trailblazers win 73-69.

The win allowed VU to remain unbeaten at 19-0 (9-0 in NJCAA District 16 play).

Sophomore Deshawn Delaney had 20 points, sophomore Darius Carter had all 14 of his points in the second half and sophomore Monte Burney scored 12 to lead VU. Southwestern Illinois sophomore Keanau Post had a game-high 23 to pace the Blue Storm (13-4).

But the biggest points of the game were Williams’ two from the stripe for the final margin and putting the game out of reach for Southwestern Illinois.

With about 4:00 to play, the Trailblazers led 69-60 after Delaney had hit a pair from the line. A few minutes later, the lead and victory were both in jeopardy. The Blue Storm’s Jaquail Townser got to the line and missed the second attempt, but Post got to the carom and was hacked by Burney. Post hit 1-of-2 and Southwestern Illinois’ Tony Bradley victimized the Trailblazers with yet another offensive rebound to put it back and pull the Blue Storm within three at 70-67 with 1:32 to go.

A minute later, VU freshman Devin Foster’s shot was blocked and Southwestern Illinois came up with the ball before calling its last timeout with 34.4 seconds on the clock. At that time, the Blue Storm was on a 10-2 run.

The hosts got the shot they wanted but Post missed inside and the ball bounced out of bounds to VU with 18 ticks left and the Trailblazers clinging to a 71-69 lead. VU inbounded the ball and also got to the rim but Delaney’s layup rolled off the rim. Williams came up with the ball and was fouled to set up the decisive free throws.

Despite double-digit leads getting away from VU in the second half, Trailblazer Coach Todd Franklin – who was battling illness during the game – had praise for his team after the game.

“I was proud of our kids for hanging in there; we battled foul trouble all night and we had some people step up,” he said.

Franklin specifically mentioned freshman Willie Wiley’s spark off the bench with a couple buckets and tough defensive play in the first half, sophomore Damarius Smith’s defensive efforts throughout much of the contest and Carter’s work in trying to contain Post in the late going.

The coach added, “Delaney had a nice night and Darius had a nice second half. (sophomore Michael) Bradley got to play tonight (after being medically cleared to resume playing following an injury) and helped out on Post. We don’t know, there at the end, how much Bradley might have helped wear him down by banging on him in the middle of the game.

“We played defense and got tough-minded, despite missing a shot that would have (given VU) an 11-point lead,” Franklin continued, “and we hung on. No one can tell me that (Southwestern Illinois) is not a top 20-level team.”

The Blue Storm and the Trailblazers will meet again when Southwestern Illinois visits the VU P.E. Complex on Feb. 23.

Up next, the Trailblazers will host Southeastern Illinois at 7 p.m. Saturday, after the VU Women’s Basketball Team takes on the Falcons at 5 p.m.

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