Charleston hands ND first loss in semis of conference tournament

Friday, December 8, 2006
Notre Dame's Mark Himmelberg, right, drove for the layup as Charleston's Antonio Riggins attempted the block during the first half of Thursday's semifinal game of the SEMO Conference Tournament in Sikeston, Mo. (Don Frazier)

The Bluejays cooled off the Bulldogs with a 13-point victory.

SIKESTON, Mo. -- An abysmal third quarter pushed third-seeded Notre Dame into the third-place game of the SEMO Conference Tournament as the Bulldogs suffered a 76-63 loss Thursday to No. 2 Charleston.

Notre Dame will play No. 4 Jackson at 7 p.m. tonight in the third-place game.

Charleston will face top-seeded Sikeston in the championship.

After leading by as many as four points in the second quarter, Notre Dame was outscored 28-11 in the third quarter and trailed 58-40 after three periods.

After the Bluejays had a 4-0 run to close the first half with a 30-20 lead, they scored the first 13 points of the second half to take control of the game.

"You come out with a much better attitude if you're leading at half," Charleston coach Danny Farmer said. "We readjusted to their pressure at the half and made a good run."

Notre Dame played with the bigger and quicker Bluejays throughout the first half. There were 12 lead changes and four ties as both teams traded baskets and turnovers.

But after the break, the Bulldogs could not keep up with Charleston's tempo. Notre Dame did not have a basket the first 3 minutes of the quarter, as Charleston broke ahead 43-29 before a Ty Williams 3-pointer with 4:53 remaining in the quarter.

"We had to expend a whole lot of energy [in the first half] and we got tired," Notre Dame coach Paul Hale said. "I thought we were intimidated by their quickness and size, but we'll get over it. We'll learn from what we did tonight. We'll grow from this. That's what we needed. We got beat by a good basketball team."

The Bluejays were led in scoring by a pair of 6-foot-4 forwards. Justin Clark led all scorers with 24 points, and Brian Parham added 17 points for the Bluejays. Jerrell Quinn, also 6-4, added 11 points.

Parham hurt the Bulldogs with his short jumper and presence inside. The junior put an exclamation point on Charleston's night with a follow-up dunk to push Charleston's lead to 68-48 midway through the fourth.

Charleston was also aided by the return of senior Jamarcus Williams, who had not played this season following a broken leg during the football season. Williams scored two points in limited playing time, but his physical presence and leadership

were a plus for the Bluejays.

"It's his first game," Farmer said. "He's about 75 percent, but his experience helped a lot."

After rolling through their first four opponents by an average of 50 points, Notre Dame could not respond to Charleston's third-quarter run. The Bulldogs got little production outside of top scorers Ryan Willen and Williams.

Willen led the Bulldogs with 21 points, and Williams finished with 20. Williams added four 3-pointers.

"I think we can play with them," Hale said. "I think we can play better than we did tonight. We have to keep our heads up."

Notre Dame (4-1) will not have any time to sulk, with Jackson standing in its way tonight. Jackson is anchored by 6-6 Hunter Grantham and 6-5 Antonio Garritano.

"They are just as good [as Charleston]," Hale said. "It will be hard to come back. We'll be here and do our best."

Charleston 76, Notre Dame 63

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NOTRE DAME (63) -- Ryan Willen 21, Ty Williams 20, Abe Dirnberger 8, Joseph Tolbert 4, Austin Greer 3, Chad Friend 2, Logan Glueck 2, Mark Himmelberg 2, John Unterreiner 1. FG: 22, FT: 15-20, F: 15 (3-pointers: Williams 4. Fouled out: none)

CHARLESTON (76) -- Justin Clark 23, Brian Parham 17, Jerrell Quinn 11, Shawn Sherrell 13, Jamarcus Williams 2, Markale Kent 2, Antonio Riggins 4, Jerquawn Sherrell 4. FG: 31, FT: 12-19, F: 17 (3-pointers: Clark 1. Fouled out: Riggins.)

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