|Posted by Brian Dickmann on December 8, 2014 at 12:45 AM|
If the Green Bay Phoenix are going to reach the NCAA Tournament this season for the first time since 1996, they are going to need steady contributions from players not named Keifer Sykes.
On Saturday afternoon in Miami, Carrington Love was able to do that and then some, scoring a career high 20 points to go along with 9 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists, and 2 blocks.
The Phoenix knocked off a high-major team for the third straight season, handing #15 Miami their first loss of the season, 68-55.
A game after the Phoenix starting 5 (minus Sykes) scored just 11 points on 4-21 shooting, Green Bay was able to get contributions from Love as well as 10 points from Greg Mays and 8 from Kenneth Lowe. But it was Carrington Love who stole the show.
Love, who had been off to a bit of a slow start so far this season, came into the game averaging 5.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per contest. He scored just 2 points total in the team's two previous games, including an 0-4 shooting night in 24 minutes of action in Green Bay's 72-48 loss at Georgia State.
"Carrington's a very good player," said head coach Brian Wardle after the game. "That's what we talked about after Thursday night, we just needed that consistency and we had it today."
The Hurricanes (8-1) played a box and one defense for stretches of the game, with a man guarding Sykes and the four other players playing a box, 2-2 defense. Love's shooting (5-8 from the floor, including 1-3 from downtown) along with unselfish play from others allowed the Phoenix to play the game at their pace. "That's the one thing I learned is to attack an aggressive group. We were trying to trying to control the tempo, control the lead," Wardle said.
Love's career average points per game is 5.4, including 5.9 at home and 3.9 in true road games. His previous career high came last January in a home game against Oakland where he scored 17 points.
Sykes and Love were able to seal the deal for Green Bay (6-2) at the free throw line late. "Carrington and Keifer on the foul line late game is huge. They both go 7 of 8 and that's how you close out games," said Wardle.
'None of us were proud of our performance on Thursday. High character people respond through failure and through adversity. That's the only way to lead to success and that's what I told them Thursday night. We're going to be successful, but we've got to bounce back and be locked in. I don't know if I've been prouder of a team."
If Green Bay is able to get consistent help from players other than Sykes, things bode well for the future.
"Go on the road, 15th ranked team in the country, and they deserve that ranking they are legit, and I thought we brought the fight to them and really sustained it on the road in the ACC against a really good team. I'm so proud."
The Phoenix return to action on Saturday at the Resch Center when they host Drake at 4:00 PM.