Sikes Plays Hero In Bearcats Thrilling Win Over Western Carolina

Nov. 10, 2007

Box Score |  Notes |  Photo Gallery  |  AP Photo Gallery 

CINCINNATI---Marcus Sikes scored the game-winning basket, his only points of the night, with three-tenths of a second remaining, propelling Cincinnati to a 66-64 win over Western Carolina in a Saturday night thriller in Fifth Third Arena. The contest, UC's second in the Peggy Cronin Classic, evens the Bearcats' season record at 1-1.

Sikes, playing in place of the fouled out John Williamson, made a strong move to the hoop after taking a pass from Deonta Vaughn, laying-in the game-winner for the Bearcats. Marvin Gentry looked like he had won it for the Bearcats after he drained a three with 39 seconds remaining, but Nick Aldridge tied the game for WCU with a three-point play just 15 seconds later. That set the stage for Sikes' heroics and the first win of the year for UC.

Gentry, despite playing just 23 minutes and taking a hard blow to the head after diving for a loose ball, led the Bearcats with 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He also made 4-of-5 shots from behind the arc. Williamson added 11 points before fouling out as did Rashad Bishop who also chipped in five rebounds and three steals.

Aldridge led all scorers with 22 points for the Catamounts (1-1), but made just 9-of-25 shots from the field. Jake Richards made all four of his three-point attempts for 12 points, while Michael Porrini chipped in 11.

Cincinnati got off to a strong start, racing to an early 9-3 advantage. Western Carolina quickly mounted a comeback, using an 11-0 run that spanned just three minutes to claim a 14-9 lead. When Aldridge drilled a three with 9:36 remaining, the Catamounts had their largest lead of the night at 17-11.

The back and forth battle would continue with a pair of Vaughn free throws allowing UC to reclaim the lead at 21-19. The pair from the charity stripe opened a 10-4 run by the Bearcats that culminated on a Larry Davis free throw that gave the home team its largest advantage of the night at 29-23. An off-balance jumper by Aldridge as time expired sent the Catamounts into the locker room trailing 31-29.

At the start of the second half, UC scored six of the first 10 points, the last on a Gentry fast-break lay-up, to go up 37-33. A three by Robinson helped WCU force the fifth of 13 ties for the night with 13:38 showing on the Fifth Third Arena clock. Back and forth the scoring went with neither team going up by more than three points. Western took the three-point cushion at the 5:14 mark as Brigham Waginger dropped in a three. Gentry promptly tied it on UC's next trip down the floor with a three to make it 57-all.

In the last few minutes, the score remained tight with two Arnold Gore free throws tying it with 1:34 to play. That set the stage for Gentry's trey, Aldridge's old-fashioned three and Sikes' heroic shot.

Despite making an uncharacteristic 1-of-9 from the floor, Vaughn did tie a career-high with nine assists, while grabbing five rebounds. Hrycaniuk pulled down six boards to lead the Cats. Porrini and Blake Gallagher had six rebounds each for Western Carolina.

The Peggy Cronin Classic concludes on Sunday with two games, getting underway at 5 p.m. The opener will pit Belmont against Western Carolina, while the nightcap features Cincinnati and Bowling Green. All four teams enter Sunday with records of 1-1.