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Drury Downs Illinois Springfield, 72-64

Drury Downs Illinois Springfield, 72-64

By Mike Morgan. CREATED Mar 7, 2014

The Drury University Panthers move into the Great Lakes Valley Conference semi finals after downing eight seed Illinois Springfield, 72-64.

Here is the press release from Drury Sports Information.

Cameron Adams scored a career-high 32 points and top seed Drury defeated No. 8 seed Illinois Springfield 72-64 in a Deaconess Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship quarterfinal game Friday afternoon at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana .

 Adams hit 11 of 12 shots and eclipsed his previous best of 28 points earlier this season at Truman State to lift the defending national champion Panthers to a 25-2 overall mark and into Saturday's 6 p.m. semifinal against fifth-seed Southern Indiana. The Screaming Eagles defeated No. 4 seed Lewis 92-74 in Friday's first quarterfinal.

The nationally fourth-ranked Panthers played almost a mirror game of their 66-59 win at UIS on February 8, when they were never really in serious danger of losing, but simply couldn't shake the stubborn Prairie Stars (10-18), who advanced by knocking off Truman State last Sunday in Kirksville.

"There were two teams that went into Truman and won this year, and we happened to be one of them and they were the other," Drury coach Steve Hesser said. "They really played hard, they were physical ... we've got to learn when you have control of the game, you've got to keep grinding and pushing. There were a couple of times when we had control of the game, but we didn't get a rebound, or didn't get a loose ball, or had a situation where maybe we didn't take a quality shot.''

"But I'm proud of our guys. They were gritty. They had to suck it up, and we're advancing to the next day. That was our goal coming in, to win and get on to the next day, and we're going to get to do that."

Adams led four Panthers in double-figures. Kameron Bundy had 11 points and seven rebounds, while Ian Carter and Lonnie Boga scored 10 points each.

Drury led 33-26 at the half, and used 52 percent shooting (14 of 27) in the second half to help pull away. The Panthers led by as many as 13 points (57-44) - that coming after Bundy pulled off one of the most spectacular three-point plays in DU history, drawing a foul on a drive, spinning 360 degrees and scooping the ball up and in off the glass.

But the Prairie Stars quickly answered with a 7-0 run to cut it back to six (57-51), and the Panthers once again had to gradually stretch it back out from there. A Drake Patterson layup with 53 seconds left pushed the DU lead to seven (67-60), and the Panthers made their free throws down the stretch to finish it from there.

Adams had 18 of his 32 points after halftime.

"He gives us inside scoring, defense and rebounding ... he's an all-league player for a reason," Hesser said. "This is a time when your best players need to step up and play. We need to get the other Kameron (Bundy) going in the same direction. No question, UIS' gameplan was to try to get physical and take Kameron Bundy out of the game, and he's got to adjust. He's got to get tough enough mentally and physically to understand that's what's going to happen the rest of his career. We've got to get him going tomorrow."

Drury had just 10 turnovers in the game - after 22 miscues in the first meeting with UIS - and forced 19 by the Prairie Stars. Regan Bruenger had 20 points and Mark Weems, Jr., added 15 points to lead Illinois Springfield, making its first appearance in the GLVC quarterfinals.

So the Panthers now get a second meeting with Southern Indiana, after beating the Screaming Eagles 64-56 on January 11 at USI. It's also a rematch of last year's GLVC tourney title game, when Drury won 71-65 for its second league championship.

"When you play Southern Indiana, it's like going into the backyard and rolling up your sleeves and seeing who's going to win the fistfight," Hesser said. "We had good fortune when we went there in January, but they've improved and we've improved. You've got to keep them off the backboards. If you want to win at this time of year, you better defend and you better rebound the basketball."