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All Time MVC Arch Madness Session 3

Welcome back, Valley fans, and it is time for session 3 of our All-Time Arch Madness. Today’s session is the Friday afternoon session where we will finish off the quarterfinals. The first game features the 2008 Drake Bulldogs against the 2006 Bradley Braves, followed by the 2017 Illinois State Redbirds and the 2007 SIU Salukis in the second game.

Game 5: #2 2008 Drake Bulldogs (11-7) vs. #7 2006 Bradley Braves (8-10) The second session of quarterfinal Friday begins with the 2008 Drake Bulldogs and one of last night’s play-in game winners, the 2006 Bradley Braves. This is a matchup of two teams that had terrific seasons, but did their biggest damage in very different ways. Drake had a very solid season from start to finish in 2008. They had the MVC POY, the National COY, spent the second half of the season ranked and won the Valley regular season title by two games. They also pounded through Arch Madness to the tune of three wins by an average of 20 points, culminating on a 30-point win in the finals over second place Illinois State. Drake got a 5-seed in the NCAA Tournament where they lost on an OT buzzer-beater. Conversely, Bradley finished tied for fifth in the MVC in 2006 (although, to be fair, they were playing in possibly the deepest MVC of all-time). They were 13-9 at one point before winning their final five regular season games, and their first two games at Arch Madness to finish the regular season 20-10 and snag an at-large bid with a 13-seed. Unlike Drake in ’08, Bradley went on a tear in the NCAA tournament by beating 4th seeded Kansas and 5th seeded Pitt en route to the Sweet 16 (where they lost to top seed Memphis). So here we have two great teams. One a solid regular season, one an amazing postseason. We’ll see which prevails tonight.

The Bulldogs got off to a very fast start in this one, as Bucky Cox hit an 18-footer to put them up 4-0, and after a Marcellus Sommerville three-pointer for Bradley, they reeled off ten straight points to take a 14-3 lead. Josh Young and Adam Emmenecker were responsible for the run as Young hit two threes, Emmenecker scored four of his own, and both players also notched assists. Bradley ended a five-minute scoreless streak with two free throws from Will Franklin at the 13:57 mark to make the score 14-5. It would be three more minutes before Bradley would hit another shot from the field when Zach Andrews scored on a drive with 11:04 to go, making the score 17-7 Bulldogs. The teams traded baskets for a stretch, with Drake maintaining a lead right around the nine-point mark. After Lawrence White tipped in a shot for Bradley at the 7:44 mark to get the Braves within 7, 24-17, Drake went on another run. Baskets by Klayton Korver, Adam Emmenecker and Jacob Bayernbruch gave Drake a 30-17 lead. Bradley then countered with baskets by Tony Bennett, Marcellus Sommerville, Zach Andrews and Bennett again to make it 30-25 with 2:43 to go. The teams more-or-less traded baskets over the final three minutes, with Adam Emmenecker hitting a jumper at the buzzer to give Drake a 40-33 lead at the break.

The second half started off slowly, and a tip-in by Lawrence Wright off a Ruffin miss cut Drake’s lead to 46-40 with 15:25 to go. Drake started to pull away after the under 12 timeout when two free-throws by Leonard Houston and a three by Klayton Korver gave them a 56-44 lead with 10:35 to go. After a Sommerville basket to get the Braves within ten, BU didn’t score again for three minutes. Houston, Leonard and Korver all scored for Drake to extend their lead to 61-46 with 6:41 to go. The Braves never got closer than 13 from that point forward, and it appeared that Drake put it in cruise control the rest of the way as the teams traded baskets. With 2:13 to go, two John Michael Hall free throws and a Josh Parker jumper extended the Drake lead to 22, 76-54. Bradley fought until the end, however, and scored a couple of late three-pointers but Drake still easily advanced to the semifinals by a 77-60 score.

Sommerville was the man for BU. He scored 25 points, made five of Bradley’s seven three pointers. and was the only Brave to make a three until two late three pointers in garbage time. Patrick O’Bryant only scored five points but did bring down 12 rebounds for the Braves who committed 20 turnovers. For Drake, ten men scored and five scored at least nine. Three scored in double figures: Adam Emmenecker (15) Klayton Korver (16), and Josh Young (12). Bucky Cox scored nine and pulled in 12 rebounds. The Bulldogs won handily while only shooting 6-21 from deep and committing sixteen turnovers. They’ll advance to tomorrow’s second semifinal against the winner of our next game between the 2017 Illinois State Redbirds and the 2007 Southern Illinois Salukis. FINAL: 2008 Drake 77, 2006 Bradley 60

Game 6: #3 2017 Illinois State Redbirds (11-7) vs. #6 2007 Southern Illinois Salukis (9-9) It is late on Friday night and the fans at Enterprise Center are getting ready to head out and party, but we still have one more game to play and it is a pretty good one. Here we have two teams that won a combined 32 out 36 MVC games, both winning regular season conference titles. They won a combined 57 games overall. Neither won Arch Madness, but both were coached by former players who won Arch Madness. There are some substantial differences between them, however. SIU came into Arch Madness in 2007 ranked 11th in the nation as the outright champion of a strong MVC that was one year removed from four NCAA bids. Despite losing to Creighton in the Final, the Salukis got a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament, the highest seed of any team in this competition. They took advantage, winning their first two NCAA games to get to the Sweet 16 before losing to top-seed Kansas. An argument can be made that, top-to-bottom, the 2007 SIU Salukis were the best team in this competition (although I had them 3rd on my initial list). Illinois State won two more MVC games than SIU but had to share the league title with Wichita State. It was a weak year for the MVC in 2017 and after Illinois State lost to Wichita in the Arch Madness Finals, the Redbirds were left out of the NCAA field and had to settle for an NIT one-seed. They won their first NIT game before a controversial loss to UCF in the second round. Both teams had a ton of accolades during the season, but neither was able to win Arch Madness. For that, we give them a shot at redemption starting right now.

This one was a doozy. Jamal Tatum started the scoring for the Saulis with two early free throws, but they did not get their first field goal until Tony Young tipped in a Wesley Clemmons miss at the 14:34 mark. Fortunately for SIU, their “Floorburn U” defense kept the game close while their offense was floundering. Paris Lee hit a three pointer, MiKyle McIntosh scored four points, and Deontae Hawkins hit a jumper over the five-minute period to give ISU a 9-2 lead. Young’s tip-in made the score 9-5 and it was Illinois State’s turn to go on an offensive swoon. Free throws by Paris Lee and Deontae Hawkins were all the Redbirds could muster over a 6+ minutes stretch that saw SIU rally for the lead with a 10-0 run. Jamal Tatum found Tyrone Green for the first basket, and later found Tony Boyle for another, and notched yet another assist with a pass to Tony Young. When the dust settled the Salukis held a brief 15-13 lead with 8:53 to go. ISU quickly answered with a three from Keyshawn Evans to reclaim the lead, but went on another 3-minute scoring drought as baskets from Tatum and Young extended SIU’s run to 17-3 and gave them a 22-16 lead. The Redbirds put the drought to bed with baskets on three consecutive possessions by MiKyle McIntosh, Tony Willis and Paris Lee to give ISU a 23-22 lead with four minutes to go. The teams traded two baskets over the final four minutes until Jamaal Tatum hit a long three at the buzzer to give SIU a 29-27 lead at the break.

The Salukis started the second half strong, and Illinois State……..didn’t. While they did make five free throws, ISU was only able to make one shot from the floor over the first nine minutes of the second half. However, like ISU in the first half, SIU struggled to take advantage of the drought. Bryan Mullins, Randal Falker and Jamaal Tatum were all able to score, but that was it for SIU. The Salukis held a 40-35 lead when the dust settled at 10:59. Things started to heat up from there as DJ Clayton banked in a shot to make it 40-37, only for Matt Shaw to immediately answer with a three to make it 43-37 SIU. The teams then traded baskets including three-pointers by Tatum and Tony Wills, and SIU held a 48-42 lead with nine minutes to play. Following a theme, neither team scored for the next three minutes until Wesley Clemmons hit another three-pointer for SIU to extend their lead to 51-42, a seemingly insurmountable lead against the “Floorburn U” defense. But SIU went on another three-minute scoring drought. Paris Lee answered with a basket, and MiKyle McIntosh added two free throws. Phil Fayne made one of two freebies, and DJ Clayton hit a three to get Illinois State within two, 52-50. Josh Bone was in the game for only four minutes, but one of them was at the 3:16 mark in the second half for some reason, and he hit a jumper from the right wing to give SIU a 54-50 edge. With 2:41 remaining, Matt Shaw fouled Deontae Hawkins who calmly sank both free throws to cut SIU’s lead to 54-52. On the ensuing SIU possession, Shaw’s shot was blocked by Fayne, but Fayne missed a jumper on the next ISU possession and Shaw got the rebound. With 2:07 to go, Bryan Mullins turned the ball over, and and DJ Clayton hit a step back jumper, tying the game at 54-54 with exactly two minutes to go. The mostly drunk Arch Madness crowd was on its feet now, even the neutral fans who appreciated this classic MVC battle. MiKyle McIntosh was called for a controversial foul on Wesley Clemmons, sending him to the line for a one-and-one. The Saluki hit both to give them a 56-54 edge. After a Phil Fayne miss, Jamaal Tatum nailed a three-pointer giving SIU the 59-54 lead with 1:31 to go. Fayne then drove into the lane for the basket for ISU to cut the lead to 59-56 with 1:16 left. Mullins had a shot blocked on the next possession, and Tony Boyle missed after an offensive board. Paris Lee grabbed the board and got it to DJ Clayton who was fouled on his shot attempt, making one of two free throws with 49 seconds to go. SIU had the lead and the ball, but Mullins short jumper was missed. With 24 seconds to go, ISU had the ball down two but couldn’t get the shot they wanted against SIU’s defense. The possession ended with Keyshsawn Evans hoisting a potential game-winning three from the right wing at the buzzer. The shot hit iron, and SIU survived with a 59-57 win to advance to the semifinals.

Tatum was all-world for SIU, as he scored 22 points and made four three pointers. The Salukis may have won it at the line, where they made 16-18 attempts. Randal Falker secured 12 rebounds for SIU while accumulating four fouls (its just a game, Falker). Despite the low scoring game, Illinois State only turned the ball over 11 times (to SIU’s 15) but were undone at the line where they made just 17 of 28 attempts. MiKyle McIntosh led a balanced scoring attack with 13 points and Deontae Hawkins had eight boards. Neither team shot it well, as both shot at or near 35% for the game. SIU will advance to a salivating matchup with the 2008 Drake Bulldogs in the semifinals tomorrow. All four remaining teams were outright league champions and won at least 28 games during the year. It should be fun. We will see you tomorrow.

FINAL: 2007 SIU 59, 2017 Illinois State 57

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