MVP Donald Whiteside, Late Arrival Walter Thompson Lead NIU Cardinal Alums to 101-99 Victory

GO HUSKIES
GO HUSKIES

GO HUSKIES
February 4, 2006

MVP Donald Whiteside, Late Arrival Walter Thompson Lead NIU Cardinal Alums to 101-99 Victory

DeKALB, IL --- Where was ESPN Classic for this one? Northern Illinois University’s Sixth Annual Men’s Basketball Alumni Game was an exciting, fun, and thrill-packed exhibition of skill for 40 minutes.

For the record, the Cardinal alums prevailed, 101-99, Saturday (February 4) morning at the Convocation Center on a fallaway three-point jump shot by guard Walter Thompson (Chicago / Kenwood) with 5.7 seconds left to play.

Ironically, the guy who had the last word---Thompson---did not appear in the Alumni Game program roster since he was the last Huskie alumni to RSVP late Friday night. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound guard responded with 11 points, three rebounds, one assist, and one steal for coach Bill Finucane’s Cardinal squad.

Once again, the annual Northern Illinois Alumni Game featured it all: Ten twin-digit scorers, two “old-timers” with point-rebound “double-doubles”, 24 three-pointers (12 by each club), 200 combined points (for the second year in a row), two dunks, and several gritty comebacks.

“It was truly a great Alumni Game,” said Black Alumni Team forward Tori Hughes (Merrillville, IN) who collected one of those impressive “double-doubles” with 15 points and 12 rebounds. “We’re still highly competitive guys. It was fun.”

Cardinal guard and current Huskie assistant coach Donald Whiteside (Chicago / Leo) earned the spotlight as the Alumni Game Most Valuable Performer. The 5-foot-10, 150-pound NIU Athletics Hall of Famer and All-Century performer led all the alums with 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the floor (7-of-11 from behind the three-point arch) and 1-of-2 at the foul line, four assists, two steals, and two rebounds. Whiteside’s seven treys tied his own Alumni game record (seven in 2002).

“We wanted to win,” said Cardinal team guard Andre Williams (Crete / Crete-Monee) who posted the other “double double” with 21 points and 12 rebounds, plus four steals and three assists. “Everybody on the floor wanted to win. It was a fun, competitive game. It was great to be part of it.”

Head coach Mike Korcek’s Black unit sprinted to early 10-2 and 15-5 leads behind swingman Brad Waller (Lombard / Glenbard East) and guard Jay Bates (Chicago / Robeson). Bates’ three-pointer put the Black alums ahead, 15-5, at the 15:59 mark. Naturally, the Cardinals battled back, going on a 21-11 run in the next 5:57, and tying the proceedings at 26 on Williams’ first stuff shot.

Northern Illinois’ Black regrouped and mounted two nine-point advantages (41-32 and 44-35). Then the Cardinal alumni finished the first half with a 15-4 flury over the final 4:49. A Rey Jones lay-up at the buzzer put NIU Cardinal ahead at half, 50-48. Black guard “Argo Al” Sewasciuk (Argo / Summit) topped all first-half scorers with 17 points and didn’t miss a shot (6-of-6 from the field and 5-of-5 from behind the arc) and Whiteside countered with 16 points.

NIU Cardinal dominated the early stages of the second stanza, eventually building a pair of 15-point leads (74-59 and 76-61) before the Black team’s late comeback. Leading by an 11-point margin at 91-80, the winners got outscored 19-8, in the last 6:28. Guard Randy Tucker (Joliet / Central) spearheaded the late Black charge with six points, including five by Bates, two by Hughes, and two by Waller. An old-fashioned three-point play on a driving lay-up and free throw by Bates pushed the Black squad back into the lead at 96-95 with 2:27 left.

Hughes upped the advantage to 97-95 with a foul shot before Williams deadlocked the game on a lay-up. Black went ahead again, 99-97, on a lay-in by Bates with 1:47 remaining. Swingman Mike Hidden (Rockford / Loves Park Harlem) tallied his 13th and final point on a free throw and pulled the Cardinal team within one, 99-98, before Thompson did his heroics.

Scoring-wise, Jones contributed 16 points to the Cardinal cause. Bates (game-record 34 points in 2004 and 29 in 2005) continued his prolific scoring in NIU Alumni Games with 26 markers on 11-of-18 shots from the floor (2-of-4 from treyland) and 2-of-3 from the line. Tucker (20), Sewasiuk (17), and Waller (15) reached twin-digits for the Black quintet.

The Huskie hardwood alums---approximately 50 in number---were recognized at halftime of the NIU-Western Michigan game in the afternoon---highlighted by appearances from two Northern Illinois National Basketball Association veterans, Hall of Famers and All-Century picks Paul “Doctor D” Dawkins (Utah Jazz in 1979-81) and Bobby Wood (Sheboygan Redskins in 1949-50).

NIU CARDINAL (101): Jones 7-12 0-0 16, Thrower 2-5 0-0 4, A. Williams
10-15 1-2 21, Whitewside 10-16 1-2 28, Armato 2-3 0-0 5, Hidden 5-10 3-4
13, Thompson 5-14 0-0 11, Padden 0-0 0-0 0, Arrington 1-2 0-0 2.
Totals: 42-77 5-8 101.
NIU BLACK (99): Rucker 8-18 2-2 20, Whiteford 3-8 0-0 6, Waller 6-14
0-0 15, Hughes 7-16 1-2 15, chramm 0-0 0-0 0, Sewasciuk 6-9 0-0 17,
Bates 11-18 2-3 26, Anderson 0-2 0-1 0. Totals: 41-84 5-8 99.
NIU Cardinal: 50 - 51 --- 101
NIU Black: 48 - 51 --- 99

3-Pt. FGS: Cardinal (12-37): Tucker 2-10, Whiteford 0-1, Waller 3-10,
Hughes 0-3, Sewasicuk 5-8, Bates 2-4, Anderson 0-1. Black (12-28):
Jones 2-5, Thrower 0-2, Williams 0-1, Whitewside 7-11, Armato 1-1,
Hidden 0-2, Thompson 1-4, Arrington 1-2. Rebounds: Cardinal (37):
Williams 12, Jones 4, Armato 4. Black (41): Hughes 12, Rucker 7, Bates
6. Assists: Cardinal (17): Whiteside 4, Williams 3, Armato 3. Black
(13): Sewasciuk 3, Tucker 3. Steals: Cardinal (12): Whiteside 4,
Armato 3. Black (9): bates 4, Tucker 3. Fouls: Cardinal (7), Black
(6). Fouled out: none. Dunks: Cardinal (2): Williams 2, Black (0).