HOUSTON (CBS-Houston) – Great West Conference play begins for Ron Cottrell and his Huskies on the road Thursday night against NJIT, the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The Highlanders enter conference play 7-9 overall, but 6-1 at home. Meanwhile, the Huskies are 6-10, but 0-7 on the road.
Regardless, this game tips off the real season in Newark for the Huskies who trampled Crowley’s Ridge in their last non-conference game at Sharp Gym, 123-43. The 80-point margin of victory is the largest in school history.
Cottrell needed to see improvement from his team defensively. But most importantly, the Huskies needed the win after having lost three consecutive ballgames.
“It was good to get the guys some confidence and get some rhythm going and get them feeling good going into conference play.”
The Huskies have been looking for that leader to emerge during non-conference play. One of those possible leaders could be 6’5” junior forward Marcus Davis who led the way for HBU with 40 points and 13 rebounds in 25 minutes against Crowley’s Ridge.
“Yeah, 40 points and 13 rebounds in 23 minutes – that’s pretty astounding numbers in that short of time on the court,” says Cottrell. “But, he came out feeling good, and knocked down some shots early. It was a tough matchup for them.
“He’s an athletic kid who can play inside-outside and can get a lot of things done on the glass whenever he decides to go rebound.”
HIGHLANDERS IN VIEW
Senior 6’3” guard Isaiah Wilkerson leads NJIT and the Great West Conference with 15.5 points per game. He’s also the leading rebounder on the team averaging 5.6 per game. Chris Flores also scored in double figures with a 12.6 points per game average and has 47 assists for the Highlanders.
Houston Baptist leads 6-2 in the all-time series versus NJIT. Naturally, being a conference foe, Cottrell knows this team really well due to the battles between the two.
“I know quite a bit! They got a lot of returning players,” says Cottrell. “We played them last year and they beat us twice during the year and then we knocked them off in the conference tournament by two, (72-70).
“They got a lot of returners off that team. They run the same system every year. We know what they’re going to do, it’s just a matter of stopping it and they’re going to be a tough opponent, certainly up there, really tough.”
Meanwhile, the Huskies boast three players with double-figure scoring averages. Junior 6’5” forward Marcus Davis leads the team with 13.0 ppg and 5.6 rpg. 6’9” junior forward Art Bernardi follows with 12.7 ppg. 6’0” freshman Tyler Russell brings up the rear with an 11.8 ppg average. Joe Latas trails Davis on the boards with a 5.3 rebounds per game average.
Tipoff against NJIT gets underway at 6:00 Thursday night. The Huskies will face Chicago State on Saturday afternoon at 2:05.