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COLLEGE BASKETBALL Torrid Titans return to form



Published: Thu, January 20, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Westminster scored 72 points in the first half of 125-100 win over Thiel.

NEW WILMINGTON - Going into Wednesday night's Presidents' Athletic Conference matchup with Thiel, on the heels of a disappointing loss to rival Grove City, Westminster College coach Larry Ondako was looking for someone, or some way, to get his team back on track.

As the game unfolded, it became apparent that his two-platoon attack on Thiel was going to work, as the Titans posted a 125-100 win over the Tomcats at Buzz Ridl Gymnasium.

"We actually have been playing pretty good basketball and tonight the kids did a good job of running the different groups," said Ondako. "Our problem is that we just haven't been shooting the ball well.

"With Eddie Pagley [flu] not in the lineup, that forced some of the other kids to step up and play more minutes and they responded to the challenge. It wasn't like they could wait and see who was going to play. They had to step in there right from the get-go."

Titans dominate first half

A race-horse affair from the opening tip, the game saw five lead changes and four ties in the opening nine minutes of the game, the last at 26-all.

However, the Titans picked up the intensity on both ends of the floor as they built a 10-point lead (48-38) before taking control late in the first half to take a 72-50 halftime lead.

During the final four minutes of the half, former New Castle standout Mark DeMonaco hit four 3-pointers. DeMonaco was 8-of-13 on 3-pointers for the game and led the Titans with 28 points.

Westminster was 18-of-34 on 3-pointers in the first half.

"We do that once in a while," said Ondako. "As poorly as we have been shooting lately, I knew we would have a breakout game so our biggest problem as coaches was to keep positive through that tough stretch."

The Titans struggled in the opening seven minutes of the second period, as Thiel strung together an 18-0 run to cut Westminster's lead to 79-76 with 12 minutes remaining.

"I know it is hard to keep that kind of intensity we had in the first half, but the kids have to realize that we have to do it, especially with the way we play the game," said Ondako. "The answer isn't from me screaming and yelling at them. They simply have to do it. I just called a timeout and told them that they would have to figure out on their own how to take care of it. Fortunately for us, they got it back together."

Look to score

The Titans turned things around in the final seven minutes. Holding onto the three-point advantage, DeMonaco completed a four-point play to give Westminster some breathing room and they took off from there.

"When you are sending in groups like we did tonight, it doesn't take much in a bad stretch to get it going," said Ondako. "The other team is going to keep scoring because we are not going to shut teams down. We just needed to get a run of our own going and obviously Mark's four-point play was huge."

The Titans got 24 points each from Pat O'Connor and Nick DiNatale. O'Connor hit five 3s, one of which put him over the 1,000-point mark for his career. DiNatale went 8-for-13 from behind the arc.

Brad Bowman led Thiel with 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Joe Herrmann finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds.




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