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Craig survives trip to Beloit

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John Barry
February 7, 2014

BELOIT—There's not a tougher place to play basketball in the Big Eight Conference than Barkin Arena.

The fabled gymnasium has been a house of horrors through the years for opposing teams as the Purple Knights feasted on home cooking.

Friday night, the Janesville Craig boys put all the Barkin mystique behind them.

Jerry Ngobi scored 17 points and the Cougars overcame six missed free throws in the fourth quarter in holding on for a 59-56 Big Eight Conference win.

Craig (10-8, 8-7) survived despite blowing a 19-point second-quarter lead.

“Every time we've played these guys in the last three years, it has been a close game, including double overtime the last time we played them,” Craig coach Mike Miller said. “So I anticipated that they would make a run in the second half, and they did.

“And this is a tough place to play. It's just a different atmosphere than anywhere else that we play.”

Craig seemed to be on cruise control by half. The Cougars led 33-14 with 1:25 left in the half on Nolan Maresch's 3-pointer and settled for a 36-21 halftime lead.

Beloit (11-8, 8-7), which played without leading scorer Andre Neal because of a one-game suspension for being ejected from a game at Parker last week, stormed back in the third quarter. The Purple Knights outscored the Cougars 22-11 to cut the deficit to 47-43 after three.

Kyan Pleasant gave Beloit its only lead of the game at 48-47 on a 3-pointer with 6:15 left to play, but Craig's Kejuan Green eventually gave his team the lead for good at 52-50 with a basket underneath with 4:48 left.

Craig had a chance to put the Purple Knights away but missed six free throws down the stretch, including three in the last 46 seconds.

“I know we missed some free throws late, but had we rebounded better in the first half, we would've been up by a lot more than 15 at half,” Miller said.

“But we got a big lift from our bench tonight, including a couple of big 3s from (SanTrell) Payton and (Logan) Carlson, and got out of a tough place to play with a win.”

Mike Murphy finished with 14 points for Craig, while Draylen Fair led Beloit with 15 points.

CRAIG 59, BELOIT 56

Craig (59)—Ngobi, 5-7-17; Maresch, 2-0-5; Murphy, 5-1-14; Smith, 2-0-4; Green, 3-0-6; Payton, 2-0-6; Carlson, 2-2-7. Totals: 21-10-59.

Beloit (56)—Fair, 5-3-15; Farr, 3-0-6; Barnes, 2-1-5; Cabrera, 4-0-8; Pleasant, 5-0-13; Hudson, 1-1-3; Fisher, 2-1-6. Totals: 22-6-56.

Janesville Craig           13       23                                 11 12—59

Beloit Memorial             8       13                                 22 13—56

Three-point goals—Craig 7 (Murphy 3, Payton 2, Carlson, Maresch), Beloit 6 (Pleasant 3, Fair 2, Fisher). Free throws missed—Craig 8, Beloit 5. Total fouls—Craig 13, Beloit 16.



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