College Sports

McKendree opens 3-game homestand; SIUE men climbing OVC standings


Bearcats open three-game homestand

The McKendree University men’s basketball team will open up a three-game homestand Thursday with a visit from Quincy University. The Bearcats and Hawks will tip off the Great Lakes Valley Conference contest at 7:30 p.m. at the Harry M. Statham Sports Center.

Thursday’s contest can be seen live on the Bearcat Sports Network at

McKendree (11-6, 2-5 GLVC) picked up a big conference victory Monday evening with a 74-59 triumph at the University of Illinois Springfield, snapping a four-game losing streak and moving into the No. 8 spot of the GLVC rating system. The top eight teams qualify for the conference tournament, March 1-4 at Edwardsville.

Justin Blanks is the Bearcats’ top scorer at 19.2 points per game. Nolan Gerling, the former standout at Mater Dei Catholic High School, averages 10.2 points per game and 5.9 rebounds.

Women open homestand

The McKendree women’s basketball team returns to the Harry M. Statham Sports Center on Thursday to play the first of three straight home games.

The Bearcats will host Quincy University in a pivotal Great Lakes Valley Conference Central Division matchup Thursday with tip-off set for 5:30 p.m. The game will also air live on the Bearcat Sports Network at

The Bearcats are 7-7 overall and 3-4 in the GLVC.

Hockey team back at it after long break

McKendree is set to hit the ice for the first time since Dec. 2. After 19 games this season, the Bearcats (16-3) are currently riding an 11-game win streak.

McKendree is currently second in the Mid-American Collegiate Hockey Association (MACHA) with 32 points, but the Bearcats have three games in hand on first-place Iowa State University with 36 points. McKendree still holds the No. 1 ranking in the Central Region of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA).

Johnson named PBA Player of the Year

A.J. Johnson, a five-time All-American during his career at McKendree University, was named Tuesday as the 2017 Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Midwest Region Player of the Year.

Johnson captured four PBA Midwest Region titles during the 2017 season, along with a third-place finish among the seven events he entered. He recently wrapped up his third year on the pro tour by capturing his second major award within the PBA Midwest Region.

In 2015, Johnson was the PBA Midwest Region Rookie of the Year.

Last week, Johnson qualified for a spot on Team USA for the fourth time in his career with his performance at the Team USA Trials in Las Vegas. In December, Johnson was part of the Team USA squad that captured a gold medal in the men’s team competition at the 2017 World Bowling Championships, finishing third individually.


Cougars climbing OVC standings

Thanks to a career-high 19 points from Brandon Jackson against Tennessee State on Saturday, the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville men’s basketball team is climbing the Ohio Valley Conference standings.

The Cougars have won three of their past four games, all in OVC play, to improve their overall record to 7-10 and league record to 3-3.

Jackson is a sophomore from East St. Louis who was recruited out of Cardinal Ritter High School in St. Louis. He’s averaging 5.5 points per game in just over 15 minutes of play per night. Springfield senior Jalen Henry leads the Cougars at 16.6 points per game.

SIUE next faces Southeast Missouri at the Vadalabene Center at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.