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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

'Jays win rematch with N.D.

Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Charleston's Marcus Biles, left, drives around Notre Dame's Frankie Ellis, right, in Tuesday's game
(Photo by Lance Hanlin, Staff)
CHARLESTON -- A sequel to the seMissourian championship game took place at Charleston on Friday, with the Bluejays hosting Notre Dame.

Like the original, Charleston prevailed. But unlike the first meeting, Notre Dame put up a fight this time around.

Charleston was on the brink of pulling away the entire game, but Notre Dame stayed in contention throughout, eventually losing 52-44.

Charleston won the first matchup 66-52, in a game much more lopsided than the final score indicates.

"Notre Dame always plays tough and plays hard," said Charleston coach Danny Farmer. "They're a very good, well-coached team. I'm just glad we came out with the victory against a quality team."

Notre Dame had one hand behind its back from the outset, playing without one of its better players, Tyler Cuba.

Wayne Essner and Travis Siebert picked up the slack, finishing with 17 and 11 points respectively.

The two came out on fire, hitting 3-pointers to give Notre Dame an early 13-8 lead. The Bluejays fought back to tie the score at 13-13 at the end of the first quarter.

Midway through the second period, Notre Dame was hit with a technical for having six players on the floor. Marcus Biles hit two free throws, then Kewain Gant scored on a putback on the ensuing possession to increase Charleston's lead to 23-15.

Essner buried a 3-pointer with nine seconds left in the frame, but Biles answered in the final moments of the period, hitting an impressive hanging jumpshot at the top of the lane.

The basket gave the Bluejays at 31-24 halftime advantage. Biles finished the game with 19 points, four steals and pulled down seven rebounds.

"He normally provides a lot for us," said Farmer. "He's quick and he's hard to stop. He gave Notre Dame fits the first time we played."

Notre Dame rallied in the third quarter, holding Charleston to just four points, shaving the lead down to 35-32.

In the final period, Cory Beussink hit a layup to cut the lead to one, but the Bulldogs would get no closer. Charleston missed a few free throws late to keep the door open, but Notre Dame failed to take advantage.

"In the three years I've been at Notre Dame, I think this is by far the best Charleston team we've faced," said Scott. "I was proud of our effort and the way we battled. At times our execution wasn't great, like in any game. We didn't make some plays down the stretch to win, but their athleticism was a big part of why we didn't."

Gant finished the game with 14 points, blocked seven shots and pulled down 12 rebounds. Ashton Farmer was held to eight points.

Notre Dame (7-4) will face Vianney on Saturday in the Cape Central Shootout. Charleston (11-3) will host Sikeston on Friday.

"We need close games like this," said Farmer. "We don't need blowouts all the time. When that happens, you get relaxed and lose your focus. This was a good game for us."