McElroy leads all-around effort in conference road win
January 24, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
U OF I PRESS RELEASE
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The 16th-ranked UIndy men's basketball team (14-2, 6-2 GLVC) drained a program-record-tying 18 shots from behind the arc while junior Brennan McElroy poured in a career-high 23 points to lead the visiting Greyhounds past Illinois Springfield, 104-79, Thursday night.
Playing just 45 minutes from his hometown of Decatur, Ill., McElroy sank all eight of his field goal attempts on the night, including four dunks. He added four rebounds, four steals and two blocks.
"McElroy is the most skilled player in the league, by far," said a proud Stan Gouard, sixth-year UIndy head coach. "He doesn't always score a lot, but all the things he brings to the table – rebounding, hard work, guarding the other team's best player. A lot of the plays he makes are not in the stat sheet."
Meanwhile, the Hounds finished 18 of 31 (.581) from 3-pont range, matching the program-record total from a Feb. 21, 2008 win versus Lewis. Semester-transfer Jordan Loyd was a perfect 5 for 5 from downtown, with all five coming in the final eight-and-a-half minutes.
"We're shooting the ball pretty well right now," admitted Gouard. "Look at our 3-point percentage tonight. If you're shooting like that, it's hard to beat a team that's shooting that well."
In addition, UIndy had another stellar night distributing the ball. The Hounds have amassed 51 assists and just 17 turnovers the previous two games combined.
"Our guys are going a great job of sharing the basketball," said Gouard. "You look at our assists the other night versus Saint Joe's; I think it was 25 assists, nine turnovers. Tonight: 26 assists, eight turnovers. So we're sharing the basketball. Very unselfish.
"It feels good as a coach to see guys happy for the next guy making a shot. That's fun to coach. That's great basketball. If we keep doing that and shooting the way we are… I like this basketball team."
After a slow start from the Hounds, the Prairie Stars (5-11, 1-7) jumped out to a quick 12-4 lead at the first media timeout. UIndy outscored its host by 22 points to rest of the half, however, as McElroy amassed 12 points, four steals and a block in the first 20 minutes.
Not known as a 3-point shooter, McElroy drained a pair of triples in the first half to spark the Greyhounds' potent offensive attack. The 6-7 swing man also had a pair of dunks in the opening period, helping take the home crowd out of the game.
UIndy had runs of 10-2 and 14-4 in build a double-digit advantage at the break. Senior Reece Cheatham hit his third trey of the game as time expired to make it 46-32 UIndy at intermission.
UIS started the second with a 7-0 run, but back-to-back dunks from McElroy squelched the home team's momentum.
The Stars managed a couple more mini runs, getting as close as six at the 11:44 mark, but UIndy's shooting took over from that point.
Up 71-64, the Hounds pummeled the Prairie Stars with five 3-pointers in a six-possession stretch to push the margin to 20 points in a blink of an eye. Kendall Vieke started the snowball rolling with his trey at the 9:33 mark, followed by a three from Avery Harmon and three straight triples from Loyd.
"Jordan Loyd has really been a great addition to the ball club for us this year," said Gouard of the newest Greyhound. "He's been a perfect fit. We thought about bringing a guy in at Christmas this year, but it had to be a perfect fit. We didn't want to bring a guy in who was going to be detrimental to the basketball team, and he came in on his visit and gelled with the guys right away. No problems; understands his role on this basketball team; great leader.
"He also comes from a great coaching background; I know he played for his dad back in Atlanta in AAU, so he's been around basketball his entire life, so he's been a great addition."
After failing to get in the scoring column versus Saint Joseph's Monday, Cheatham rebounding with 16 points while shooting 4 of 8 from the arc. Fellow senior Tyrae Robinson added 11 points, six assists and just one turnover.
Up next, the Greyhounds make the trek down I-55 to Lebanon, Ill., to take on the McKendree Bearcats Saturday evening. Tip time is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. ET.