College Basketball: North Central tops Millikin in CCIW
FROM STAFF REPORTS February 6, 2013 10:28PM
Updated: February 7, 2013 7:52PM
Facing a much more stubborn effort than it had in this season’s previous meeting, North Central completed a season sweep of Millikin University on Wednesday. The Cardinals made just enough clutch plays down the stretch to secure a narrow 59-58 victory at the Griswold Center.
The win was the third straight for the 11th-ranked Cardinals (19-3, 8-3 CCIW), who can lock up a bid to the CCIW Tournament with a victory at Augustana on Saturday.
North Central appeared determined to end Wednesday’s game early, as a string of five straight three-point field goals netted a 20-6 advantage with 13:17 left in the opening period. The first two three-pointers came from Jack Merrithey, who made an early appearance off the bench, and Vince Kmiec, Aaron TIknis and Derek Raridon followed with one apiece.
Following a timeout, Millikin (8-14, 4-7 CCIW) got a three-pointer from Trent Windemuller to open an 11-1 surge which cut the lead to 21-17. The Cardinals called a timeout of their own and soon boosted the lead to 10 with a six-point run, including a pair of jumpers from Raridon. The Big Blue closed the gap to four points once again shortly before halftime, but Jack Burchett found Raridon for a layup with nine seconds left and the visitors went into the break with a 31-25 edge.
North Central led by as many as 10 points early in the second period as well, though the Big Blue continued to hang around as the Cardinals ran into some struggles shooting the ball. Millikin made it a single-possession game when Windemuller’s three-pointer left the score at 52-50 with 5:20 to play. Raridon sank a pair of free throws, which were countered by the Big Blue’s Elijah Kinmon. The Cardinals’ Landon Gamble grabbed an offensive rebound and fed Raridon for a layup to extend their lead to four points once again, but Chase Robbins drove the lane for a score to draw the hosts within a single basket again at 56-54 with 1:56 left.
Millikin had an opportunity to tie the game after a pair of missed free throws by Gamble, but TIknis came up big with a blocked shot in the low post and wound up sinking two charity shots on the other end to give the Cardinals a 58-54 lead with 44 seconds to go. Deavis Johnson sank one of two free throws for Millikin and the Big Blue fouled Tiknis once again. The senior also sank one of his two attempts, yielding a four-point lead for the Cardinals with 13 seconds on the clock.
Tiknis’ made free throw turned out to be a pivotal one, as Windemuller buried a desperate three-point attempt with three seconds to play. Tiknis was put on the line one final time, missing both attempts, but the Big Blue were unable to get another shot on the basket.
Despite shooting just 39.5 percent from the floor (17-43), the Cardinals made a living at the free-throw line, sinking 19 of 28 attempts. Raridon led all scorers with 20 points on 8 of 13 shooting, while Gamble made 9 of 12 free throws in a 13-point outing and Tiknis totaled 10 points. Kmiec grabbed a team-high eight rebounds and Merrithey finished with a season-high five assists.
Windemuller paced Millikin with 11 points and Johnson put up 10 points and nine rebounds.
The Cardinals tip off with Augustana (16-6, 6-5) at 7 p.m. at the Carver Center on Saturday.