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Started By PointGuard, Nov 08, 2017 01:43 AM

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#21

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Youngstown State Clips Eagles Wings
By Steve Porter

Hosting the 1-3 Morehead State Eagles, Coach K.D. Durst changed the starting lineup for the first time. Sophomore PF Rich Braswell started in place of senior Kareem Toole. Prior to the game Durst said, “Rich has played well coming off the bench so I wanted to see how he’d do as a starter. 

The Penguins simply outhustled the Eagles in the first half. Not only did they outshoot Morehead State 52%to 35%, but also out-rebounded the Eagles, 19-11 and had 24 points in the paint compared to the Eagles 6. That resulted in a 43-28 halftime lead. Leading the way for the Penguins was PG Ryan Surpin with 13 points 

Youngstown State hung on in the 2nd half, maintaining a small but solid lead and winning by a score of 71-64. Ry Surpin led all scorers with 18 points. PF Rich Braswell rewarded Coach Durst’s confidence by scoring 14 and grabbing 7 rebounds. SF Rick Martin, who sustained minor injuries in an auto accident two days ago, played 12 minutes. The victory improved the Penguins record to 3-2. 

After the game, Coach Durst said, “Ryan Surpin has played extremely well in all three of our wins. His leadership is a key to our success.” Surpin is averaging 13.0 ppg, 5.6 apg, 1.8 spg, and has hit 51% of his FG attempts in the Penguins first five games. When asked about Rick Martin, Durst responded, “Rick is doing well. The roads were icy the morning of the accident. He had his seat belt on at the time of the accident, which apparently kept his injuries to a minimum. He just got a little banged up. We kept him out of practice since the accident, but he was chomping at the bit to get into the game tonight and he played without any effects of the accident.”



#22

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Tough part of the season for the Youngstown State basketball program. The next 4 games are on the road. Since the newspaper doesn’t have the bucks to send me out with the team, my game results stories are likely to be short.



#23

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Penguins Win 4th Straight Game
By Steven Porter

Youngstown State played a solid first half as both SG Josh Jones and C Jamal Grady scored 9 points to lead them the Penguins to a 45-36 halftime advantage over the Elon Phoenix. 

The Penguins remained in control throughout the 2nd half even though a couple runs by Elon cut their margin to just 6 points. But each time the Penguins rallied to re-establish a firm lead and won by a final score of 85-72. The Penguins now have 4 wins against 2 losses this season.

C Jamal Grady scored 20 points, followed by SG John Jones with 15, PG Ryan Surpin with 14 (and 5 assists and 6 rebounds), C Steven Puzey with 12 points (to go along with 7 rebounds, 4 steals, and a block), and SF Chad Delzell with 8 points (plus 2 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals).



#24

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Win Streak Ends For Youngstown State
By Steve Porter

The first half against the 3-2 SE Louisiana Lions was a disaster for the Penguins. Poor shooting (32%), failure to block out on the boards (-9) and 6 more turnovers and 7 more fouls than the Lions put Youngstown State in a hole out of which they were unable to crawl. When the buzzer sounded at the half, SE Louisiana led 47-25. Fouls limited PG Ryan Surpin to just 6 minutes on the court, but during that limited time he scored 8 points to top the scoring for the Penguins.

With the exception of a 9 point run late in the game after a technical foul on Coach Durst, things didn’t improve in the 2nd half for the Penguins. They fell hard 84-63.

High scorers for Youngstown State were: PG Ryan Surpin (15), SF Chad Delzell (11 points plus 8 rebounds), and SG Josh Jones (10). C Jef Thompson scored 16 and pulled down 10 boards for the Lions. The Penguins, who played as though they were tired, now have a 4-3 record.



#25

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I just checked the stats for the Penguins. Their guards, other than Ryan Surpin, definitely need to improve their shooting. The good news is Surpin is hitting 52% of his FG attempts including 48% of his 3’s. But the bad news is: Josh Jones (37% FG%, 22% 3P%), Tim Lostetter (28% FG%, 8% 3P%), Jermaine Harrington (31% FG%, 17% 3P%). Jones needs to stop shooting from outside the 3-point line on the right wing. He’s hit just 1 of 19 shots from there.Harrington has hit just 1 of 11 from the same area of the court. Lostetter is 1 of 11 from just outside the top of the key. I’m not sure if the guards are simply poor shooters or if they’ve just exhibited poor shot selection. But if there is no improvement, that kind of shooting is going to torpedo the Penguins as their season continues.



#26

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Damn, think I’m going crazy. Last night I had this dream that I was playing for Youngstown State. Only thing was that I kept getting charging fouls called on me. Charge after charge after charge. I was like a bull in a china closet, a demolition derby car bashing into other cars, a bowling ball knocking down pins. The dream went on so long I should have fouled out of the game 2 or 3 times. And I never did make a basket. I guess my high school coach was right about me. 

What the hell? Who has dreams about charging fouls? I’m telling you about this, but certainly won’t let anyone know at the newspaper, since they’d hang it over my head forever.



#27

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Youngstown State Topples Stony Brook
By Steve Porter

Last night the Penguins travelled to New York to take on the Stony Brook Seawolves who entered the game with a 3-3 record. 

Playing soundly, the Penguins led throughout most of the first half, but the refs rewarded the home team and allowed the Seawolves to pull ahead 33-32 at the break. PF Kareem Toole scored 8 points in the game’s first 8 minutes but then was relegated to the bend due to foul trouble.

The two teams played to a 41-41 tie midway through the 2nd half, but then the Penguins pulled away to take a 10 point lead with 6 minutes to play. Stony Brook cut the lead to 3 with a minute to go, but the Penguins hung on to win 69-64. 

C Jamal Grady scored 13, PF Kareem Toole added 12, and C Steven Puzey hit for 11 (plus had 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks). Youngstown State’s record now stands at 5-3.


#28

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Lynn, my present girlfriend, asked me today when I’m going to look for a promotion or a new job. That caught me unaware. I hadn’t really even considered it. I go to work every day and do what’s expected of me. Turn out some columns. Fill some space in the sports section. I’m satisfied. I finally said to her, “Why should I do something else?” She said that people need to be moving forward. Doing the same thing for 6 years isn’t moving forward. Well that resulted in an unpleasant argument and me storming out. I suspect she will be following her thought-process of today and…moving forward from me very soon.

I’ve had a series of girlfriends. No long termers and no one very serious. While I was ruminating about our argument, I got thinking about their names. The last ones (in reverse order of appearance)…Lynn, Ann, Jill, Grace, Jane. All one syllable. None named Danielle, Alexandra, or Stephanie. I looked up the most popular girl baby names in the year I was born. Numbers 1 through 5: Jessica, Ashley, Brittany, Amanda, Samantha. All the names in the Top 50 had 2 or 3 syllables. That’s right, no one-syllable names. Seems that Youngstown is out of step with America and goes for plain names. Hell, my folks named me STEVE, not STEVEN.



#29

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Penguins Topped by Highlanders
By Steve Porter

The first half between Youngstown State and the Radford Highlanders was sloppy with a total of 26 turnovers. The Penguins held a lead early but Radford came on toward the end of the half to take a 30-28 lead to the locker room. 

In the 2nd half, Radford zeroed in on the net, hitting 51% for the entire game. The Highlanders pulled away to drop the Penguins 74-58. 

C Steven Puzey had a big game for Youngstown State with 18 points and 8 rebounds.



#30

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I finally got a chance to talk with Coach Durst for a little while. He said he and the team were happy to be back home after 4 straight games on the road. He also said he was happy to have been able to come away with a split. He’s concerned about their upcoming game against Toledo, though. Even though it’s a home game, the Rockets are a step up in strength and talent from the teams they’ve played thus far. 

When asked about the strength of his team, Durst said thus far it primarily revolved around his center and point guard position. Puzey and Grady have combined to score about 20 ppg and pull down 11 rpg at the center position and Surpin is solidifying the offense from his point guard position plus being the team’s top scorer with nearly 12 ppg. 

He said the weakest aspects for his team have been turnovers, 3-point shooting, and defense. They’ve been working hard on defense and ball control in practice and he felt it will result in improvement as the season progresses. He’s less positive about their outside shooting since that is an individual skill that is likely to develop more slowly. I got the sense that they will try working the ball inside more and taking fewer outside shots.



#31

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Penguins Fly Higher Than Rockets
By Steve Porter

Youngstown State jumped out to a lead and extended it to 20-10 after just 6-1/2 minutes of play by outhustling the Toledo Rockets. Toledo then chopped the lead to just 3 points, but the Penguins were able to recover and rebuild a substantial lead and finally finishing the half ahead by a 44-31 score. C Jamal Grady scored 10 points to lead the Penguins offensively.

The Penguins came back even stronger in the 2nd half, shooting well and dominating the boards. They steadily expanded their lead to drub the Rockets 86-68. The win improved Youngstown State’s record to 6-4.

Besides outshooting the Rockets 52% to 41%, the Penguins controlled the boards, hauling down 39 rebounds compared to Toledo’s 29. Jamal Grady hit 12 of 17 shots in the 14 minutes he was on the floor to finish with 25 points as well as grabbing 7 rebounds. PG Ryan Surpin chipped in 14 points while dishing out 7 assists and pulling down 6 boards. C Steven Puzey scored 10 points and had 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals.

During the post-game interview, Coach K.D. Durst praised his team for never letting down throughout the entire game. “I was proud of how our team stepped up their game tonight and kept their foot down on the accelerator against the toughest team we’ve played thus far this season. Our two centers both had outstanding games, combining for 35 points and 16 rebounds.” But Durst reserved his highest compliments for his team’s defense, rebounding, and ball control. “The guys really pulled together defensively and kept the Rockets under control throughout the game. That together with how they blocked out on the boards and also finished with just 11 turnovers were keys to our winning tonight.” Asked about his team’s 3-point shooting which has been a weakness throughout the season thus far, Durst said, “You know, our guys still have a long way to go to alleviate what seems to be a team-wide mental block on shooting from beyond the arc during games. But tonight I saw some light at the end of the tunnel. We hit 5 of 14 of our 3-point attempts. Not great, but an improvement. We’re going to continue to work on it so hopefully our shooting from out there becomes a strength at some point. Also tonight we were effective at working the ball inside, so that was a big plus. We scored 44 points in the paint!”

Not unsurprisingly, C Jamal Grady picked up his 2nd Freshman Player of the Week award for the Horizon League, based on his 25 point, 7 rebound game against Toledo.



#32

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Penguins 6-4 Entering League Play
By Steve Porter

Next week the Youngstown State Penguins begin Horizon League play. Their pre-conference record is 6-4. Here’s how they have fared thus far this season:

East Tennessee State, L 64-76
@ Longwood, L 68-89
SMU, W 77-75
@ Niagara, W 76-64
Morehead State, W 71-64
@ Elon, W 85-72
@ SE Louisiana, L 63-84
@ Stony Brook, W 69-64
@ Radford, L 58-74
Toledo, W 86-68

As they were leaving practice yesterday, I caught up with 3 of the team’s seniors. Kareem Toole said, “We’re excited to get into Horizon League play. We played pretty well during the pre-conference segment of our schedule, particularly since 6 of our 10 games were on the road. I think we’re gelling as a team and have begun to more effectively employ Coach Durst’s strategies. So I’m optimistic about how we will do in league play.” Ryan Surpin expressed, “We were too tentative in our early games this season, but have been playing more confidently as the season has progressed. This is my fourth and last year here, and believe me, it’s a lot more fun winning rather than losing regularly as we’d done during my first 3 years.” Toole added, “Coach D has been working our tails off in practice. And Ryan has taken command of our team during games and is directing our offense so that we’re turning the ball over less and taking better shots.” Steven Puzey then commented, “Not only that, but Coach Durst has worked with us to get better position and block out more effectively on the boards. He keeps a running tally of how we’re faring against our opponents on the boards and gives us hell if we let them get the best of us.”



#33

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My editor, Tracy Tason, surprised me earlier this week asking how I’d like to spend Christmas in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He’s willing to spring for the bucks to cover the Penguins next road game, the beginning of conference play. With all the penny-pinching this newspaper does, it’s totally out of character but I guess shows that local interest is growing about this team. I’m not thrilled to be away for Christmas and even less so to be going to Green Bay in the freakin’ middle of winter, but there’s no way I can say no. So I guess it’s time to pack my bags and go on the first plane ride of my life. Flying, particularly in what could be freezing, storming weather, is making my stomach ache already . Think I will have to have a couple drinks before the flight to fortify my spirits with spirits.

Today, I found out that reserve SG Jermaine Harrington has been ruled academically ineligible for the rest of the season (and the rest of his career since he’s a senior). From what I’ve been able to ascertain from 3rd assistant Miguel Ward, Harrington has been tutored since September and still finished the fall term with a 1.9 GPA. Harrington has been playing over 15 mpg and has averaged 4.4 ppg. He’s been an important cog to provide depth at the guard positions. His loss means the Penguins will have to play Surpin, Jones and Lostetter more. Lonnie Holt, a sophomore is a possibility to get more time coming off the bench. But Holt thus far has only played in 3 games and less than 3 mpg in each of those games, so he may not yet be ready for prime time. Another option may be to have either of their SF’s (Delzell and Martin) put in a little time at the 2 position.



#34

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Man, airports are scary places. Others told me to get to the airport a couple hours before my flight. I was sure they were pulling my leg, but did it anyway. Lucky I did. I had no idea where I was going once I got into the terminal. I finally got pointed in the right direction and made my way to the end of a freakin’ long line. The TSA guys and the people in line behind me got pretty upset since I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Had I known I was going to have to nearly strip down, I wouldn’t have worn lace-up boots and too many layers of clothes. After taking off my belt I had to hold my pants up with one hand to keep them from slipping down to my knees. That made it difficult to take everything out of my pockets while filling bins and shambling slowly along and I dropped stuff all over the floor. Then they made me pull my computer out of my bag so a couple other things fell onto the computer belt. My bag got looked at forever while it went through the x-ray machine. I didn’t know I couldn’t bring a lousy bottle of water onto the plane. They pulled it out of my bag and tossed it away while looking at me like I was Osama bin Bomber and re-scanned my bag. Then I stumbled through the machine taking a picture of my body as I felt my pants beginning to slip down with my hands raised the way they forced me to do. Next I had to put all my belongings back together and re-dress. By then I was a sweaty mess. I made my way to a bar and got a drink while my concerns about the forthcoming flight overwhelmed my brain and body. By the time I made my way down to the gate everyone else was onboard my flight. The airline employees seemed upset that I hadn’t gotten down to the gate earlier, but I just tried to avoid their glaring countenances. On the plane the overhead storage was completely full and it took me several minutes to try to stuff my bag under the seat in front of me, leaving absolutely no room for my feet. All the while, my seat mates were mumbling, particularly the one who was in the aisle seat and had to stand in the aisle while I wrestled with my bag. When I finally sat down in the middle seat with no room for my feet, I found I had no place for my body and shoulders either since they were crushed between two other big people. All the effort had only made me sweat more. I felt like a drenched dog and sat pondering what I was sure would be a terror-filled flight.

The plane seemed to taxi all over the entire airport as my dread increased. Then the engines roared and the plane bounced clumsily along the runway straining to get off the ground. My stomach sank as the plane finally lifted off. My mind said I was a fool not to have forgone the trip and to just have written a game summary story as if I had travelled to Green Bay. As the plane did a series of violent ups and downs in the inclement weather, I could only sit in silent panic. I ordered another drink and gulped it down. The drink worked wonders and I fell asleep, only to be awoken by a thunderous crash and slamming bump. In my awakening confusion, I was sure we were dying. I’m glad I didn’t scream like a little girl, since it turns out that the plane was merely reattaching itself to the runway at the end of my first plane ride. Wishing I could sprint off the plane and find the nearest restroom, I could only sit immobile in my seat as the aisle filled with other passengers awaiting the opening of the door. The line inched slowly forward before I could finally extricate myself shakily walk off the plane. Oh, and by the way, airports really should have restrooms right next to the gate.



#35

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Green Bay Too Cold For Penguins
By Steve Porter

With the thermometer reading -2 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind blowing 20 mph from the north across Green Bay, Wisconsin, the Youngstown State Penguins took on the Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix. Before the game, Penguins Coach K. D. Durst said, “While the Phoenix have an identical 6-4 record to ours, they’ve played a much tougher schedule. Three of their losses were to Top 25 teams. And they have a very talented SG in Ross Lang. He’s averaging over 16 ppg and has scored over 20 points in 4 of their 10 games. So we need to figure out a way to keep him from breaking loose. Our being short-handed at the guard position is going to make that challenge even more difficult.”

Resch Center was nearly filled to capacity, possibly because it was much warmer inside that outside. And the partisan fans were vocal and enthusiastic.

The Penguins came out strong, knocking down their shots, and held the lead for the first 6-1/2 minutes of the game. At that point Wisconsin-Green Bay went on an 8 point run to take command. But even though the Phoenix were hitting well from all over the court and controlling the boards, the Penguins gamely held on to keep the game close. At the half the score was 44-38 in favor of Wisconsin-Green Bay. PF Rick Braswell came off the bench to score 11 points for Youngstown State, but PG Ross Lang had 12 points and C Nate Holloway had 11 points for the Phoenix.

In the 2nd half, Youngstown State couldn’t keep up with the hot-shooting Phoenix who hit 57% of their FG attempts. They fell behind by as much as 18 points. The game ended with the Penguins on the short end of an 83-74 score. 

PF Rich Braswell scored 15 while grabbing 8 rebounds. PG Ryan Surpin and SG Josh Jones both scored 13. For Wisconsin-Green Bay, SG Ross Lang and C Nate Holloway each scored 18. Holloway also had 9 rebounds while Lang had 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 4 blocks.

Coach Durst said, “Our guys came out playing well and taking it to them, but it took a lot out of us and the Phoenix just wore us down as the game proceeded. Having both of our centers get in foul trouble early also made things tough for us. We double-teamed Ross Lang and he still hit 8 of 13 shots plus played exceptionally strong defensively. He was awesome.”



#36

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Puzey Propels Penguins
By Steve Porter

For their game against the Wright State Raiders one of the keys for Youngstown State was to stop their high scoring SG John Blanchard (18.8 ppg). They did it by working the ball to the man he was guarding and driving on him. Blanchard picked up his 2nd personal at the 13:47 mark and went to the bench. The Penguins held onto a small lead from the point until the end of the half when they were ahead by a 36-30 score. C Steven Puzey and SF Chad Delzell both scored 8 points in the half. 

The Penguins held onto a small lead throughout the 2nd half and then pulled away late in the game to pick up a 70-57 win.

Topping the Penguins were C Steve Puzey with 18 points and 7 rebounds, SF Chad Delzell with 13 points and 6 boards, and SG Josh Jones with 10 points and 5 rebounds. For Wright State, John Blanchard scored 14 but only hit 5 of 14 FG attempts and was 2 of 7 from beyond the arc.

The win gives Youngstown State a 7-5 season record and it evened their Horizon League record at 1-1.

Asked about his productivity, Steven Puzey replied, “The guys were working the ball into me well. It feels good to put points on the board, but tonight was a good team effort. We were intent on controlling John Blanchard and we did it. Even though he got into foul trouble early, he came back into the game and still played 30 minutes, but we held him to 14 points and our defense limited him to hitting just 5 of 14 shots.”

As 2016 comes to an end, the Penguins have four players averaging in double figures: Ryan Surpin-11.6 ppg, Steven Puzey-10.8 ppg, Josh Jones-10.5 ppg, and Jamal Grady-10.3 ppg. Steven Puzey is their top rebounder with 6.2 rpg followed by Chad Delzell with 5.3 rpg and Jamal Grady with 4.6 rpg. Ryan Surpin is averaging 4.5 assists per game.

The Top 10 teams nationally in the polls are: Indiana, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Florida, Louisville, Kansas, Oklahoma, Butler, Notre Dame, and Wake Forest.



#37

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Mom was unhappy I wasn’t around for family Christmas. So I had to be sure to spend New Years with the family. Mom, Dad, sister Rose and brother John plus Rose’s and John’s families. Yeah, Rose and John…further examples of the Youngstown one-syllable naming regimen.

These family get-togethers always result in my mom opining in one way or another that I should be thinking about getting married. I just ignore her. Rose married when she was 19 and John when he was 21. At 26, my mother thinks I’m way too old to still be single…and not producing grandchildren for her. Rose has gifted her with 3 and John with 2. Both Rose and John (well mostly John’s wife) have forgone the one-syllable name tradition, opting instead for whatever name is the most popular the year each kid is born.

Rose’s husband has a good job so they’re doing pretty well financially. On the other hand, John has taken after my father, getting one low paying job, losing it, and going on to the next. So he and his family are barely scraping by. But dad, who always did physical jobs, thinks John is doing great whether it’s part-time construction work, warehousing, or whatever other job he can come up with. Dad doesn’t think much of my non-physical work. I think he feels it really isn’t a “job”…how can writing be a job?

Rose takes me aside. She wants to go with her husband on a second honeymoon to the Caribbean. Can I babysit her 3 kids and 2 dogs and their cat..and, oh yeah, their pet gerbil...for a week?

While we’re watching the Sugar Bowl game, John asks for the 20th time in the past 2 months why I can’t get him some free season tickets for Youngstown State basketball.

When you going to get married? When do we get our grandkids? When are you going to get a real job? Can you take care of our kids and pets? When you going to get me some free season tickets?

What more could a guy want from New Year’s Day, 2017? I let my mind wander to the Penguins next opponent: Valparaiso.



#38

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Penguins Can’t Find Hoop
By Steve Porter

Youngstown State’s first half of play against the Valparaiso Crusaders was U-G-L-Y. The Penguins his just 24% of their shots and turned the ball over 10 times. But Valparaiso wasn’t much better, hitting just 28% of their shots. The Penguins controlled the boards though, pulling down 30 rebounds compared to the Crusaders’ 17 boards. The score the break was Valparaiso-29, Youngstown State-27. PG Ryan Surpin scored 8 points plus grabbed 6 rebounds and dished out 3 assists in the half.

Horrendous shooting continued to plague both teams early in the 2nd half. But midway through the half, Valparaiso began hitting their shots and sprinted out to a 57-40 lead with 7:15 remaining. With the Penguins unable to shake their woeful shooting, the game was basically over at that point. The Crusaders went on to apply a 71-50 shellacking to Youngstown State.

The Penguins finished the game hitting just 22% of their shots and making 21 turnovers, although they did maintain a 48-40 rebounding advantage. Valparaiso improved their record to 8-4 overall, while their Horizon League record is now 2-1 which puts them in a 5-way tie for the league lead. Youngstown State is now 1-2 in the Horizon League which places them in a 5-way tie for 6th place. Their overall record is now 7-6.

Ryan Surpin hit for 11 points plus had 5 assists, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals. SF Chad Delzell scored 9 and grabbed 9 boards.






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