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2014-02-06 ONU stifles St. Francis (IL) for fifth straight CCAC win, Hodge recognized for career milestone
2014 Ralph Hodge (3)

Head coach Ralph Hodge was recognized before the game for his 700th career win last week

ONU stifles St. Francis (Ill.) for fifth straight CCAC win, Hodge recognized for career milestone

Author: Nick Birkey
Posted: Friday, February 07, 2014 at 8:59 AM
2014 Alex Thorson (1)

Sophomore Alex Thorson played 32 minutes against St. Francis (IL)

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — On a night that Head Coach Ralph Hodge was recognized for his 700th career win, the Olivet Nazarene University men’s basketball team played well enough to win him No. 701, defeating CCAC rival University of St. Francis, 71-48. On Thursday, Feb. 6, the Tigers put together their best defensive effort of the season, holding the Saints to only 48 points — under 30 in each half. St. Francis made only 14 field goals and shot only 29.2 percent. Olivet is currently on a five-game win streak, having won 10 of their last 12. They will play for the outright lead in the CCAC South Division on Saturday, Feb. 8, against Holy Cross College (Ind.).

ONU (12-11, 10-4) started slow, falling behind early as they failed to establish any sort of offensive rhythm or consistency. The Saints (11-13, 8-6) led 13-9 with 12:51 to play in the first half and 15-13 with 10:32 to go. The Tigers tied it up at 15 and, with 8:05 to go, Alex Thorson (Philo, Ill.) hit a three-pointer to put the Tigers up for good. Olivet finished the half on a 13-7 run, leading by six at the break.

In the first half, Olivet shot 12-for-28 from the field (42.9 percent), 2-for-7 from the three-point line (28.6 percent) and 2-for-4 from the free-throw line (50 percent). They outrebounded the Saints 24-12. The Tigers had six offensive rebounds and committed eight turnovers. St. Francis shot 30.8 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from the three-point line and 60 percent from the free-throw line. The Saints committed six first-half turnovers and had two offensive rebounds.

Following the break, the Tigers exploded and took a 12-point lead only three minutes into the half. With 13:06 to play in the half, the Tigers led 43-28 and took their first 20-point lead with 8:27 to play. From the 12:49 mark to the 7:42 mark, the Saints scored only five points while the Tigers stretched their lead from 12 to 18. ONU’s largest lead was 27 with only 2:10 remaining in the game.

Sophomore Aaron Larson (Tolono, Ill.) led the Tigers with a 20 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the field. He added seven rebounds, one assist and two blocks in 34 minutes.

Junior Zach Wagner (Roselle, Ill.) finished with 10 points, making 4-of-7 field goals and going 2-for-4 from free-throw line. He also finished with 10 rebounds and five assists in 21 minutes, good for his third double-double of the season.

Sophomore Alex Thorson finished with five points on 2-for-5 shooting and 1-for-2 from the three-point line. He added three rebounds and four assists in 32 minutes.

Sophomore Reid Farchmin (Mahomet, Ill.) finished with 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting, 1-for-2 from the three-point line and 1-for-2 from free-throw line. He added seven rebounds and one assist in 22 minutes.

Off the bench, junior Matt Ryan (San Diego, Calif.) finished with 10 points, going 4-for-6 from the field and 2-for-2 from the free-throw line. He added eight rebounds and four assists in 22 minutes. Freshman Tyler Crater (Hampshire, Ill.) had six points, four rebounds and two assists in 28 minutes.

The Tigers’ starting point guard, junior Austin Davis (North Augusta, S.C.), missed his third game this season with a sprained ankle.

Chris Miller led St. Francis with nine points on 2-for-8 shooting from the field, 1-for-3 from the three-point line and 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. He added three steals in 24 minutes. Jo Jo Ballestero finished with eight points on 2-for-9 shooting, 1-for-8 from the three-point line and 3-for-3 from the free-throw line, and had three assists in 26 minutes. Andrew Lerg added eight points, one rebound and one assist in 17 minutes.

Overall, the Tigers shot 30-for-57 from the field (52.6 percent), 3-for-13 from the three-point line (23.1 percent) and 8-for-12 from the free-throw line (66.7 percent). They outrebounded the Saints 45-20, and committed 17 turnovers and totaled 22 assists, with 12 offensive rebounds and eight steals.

St. Francis shot 14-for-48 from the field (29.2 percent), 6-for-19 from beyond the arc (31.6 percent) and 14-for-20 from the free-throw line (70 percent). The Saints had six assists, 14 turnovers, four offensive rebounds and 12 steals.

ONU will be back on the court Saturday, Feb. 8, at home against conference opponent Holy Cross College (Ind.) at 3 p.m.