Nov. 17, 2007 — The 2008 version of Paradise Jam definitely lived up to the hype Friday, with four action-packed games on the floor at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center on St. Thomas.
Georgia Tech needed all 40 minutes to beat UNC-Charlotte 82-77 in the first game of the day, which kicked off in the early afternoon. Georgia Tech took a six-point lead into the half, nearly doubling the 49ers field goal percentage, shooting 61 percent from the field.
The Yellow Jackets were the more physical team in the first half, but found themselves clinging to a two-point lead, with 7.9 seconds left in the game. Charlotte had the ball and a chance to win, but turned the ball over on the inbounds play, fouling Georgia Tech center Alade Aminu, with one second left. Georgia Tech would hold on for the victory.
Winthrop crushed the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) 72-58 during the second game of the day. The Eagles brought the rain, shooting 57 percent from the field and 60 percent from behind the three-point line. The Flames' defense was more like a flicker, leaving Eagles' forward Taj McCullough to run free, going three for four from behind the arc, and leading his team with 11 points in the first half.
Winthrop had a 16-point lead by half time. McCullough continued his hot streak from the first half, scoring 10 more points in the second, to finish with a game-high 21 points. Teammate Michael Jenkins chipped in with 13 points, and four assists. UIC's Josh Mayo led his team with 16 points.
The third game of the day was a defensive struggle between Baylor University and Wichita State. Wichita State dominated the boards throughout the game, but it was Baylor's Curtis Jerrells 23-point, eight-rebound, four-assist effort that got the Bears the victory Friday night.
Wichita State dominated the paint and second-chance points, but the difference was Baylor going 12 for 25 from beyond the arc.
Baylor carried a slim eight-point lead into the half, 36-28. The Bears' defense caused Wichita to turn over the ball 14 times, and was the key to the Bears' 64-55 victory.
Phillip Thomasson and Matt Braeuer both had 12 points for Wichita State. Second to Jerrells' 23 points for Baylor was Aaron Bruce, ending with 10 points.
The Fighting Irish knocked out Monmouth in the final game of the night. The hoops fight was scored 76-33 in favor of Notre Dome.
Notre Dame opened the game on a 17-4 run, with Ryan Ayers and Kyle McAlarney both hitting two 3-pointers in the opening three minutes of the game. Even after that torrid start, Monmouth found themselves only down by five, with seven minutes to go in the half.
But he Irish found their stride again in the closing minutes of the half, pushing their lead to 13. With 2.3 seconds left in the half, a full-court pass and a lay-up by McAlarney beat all of the Hawks' defenders, giving the Irish a 37-25 lead and momentum gong into the break.
Notre Dame's defense utterly shut down Monmouth in the second half, allowing them just eight points, and none in the last 10 minutes of the game. Irish guard Rob Kurz led his team with 15 points and five rebounds, while McAlarney and Ayers finished with 13 points.
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