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On Campus: Zach Toussaint eager for another shot at national title

Last March in Evansville, Ind., Zach Toussaint hit the biggest jump shot of his life.

A buzzer-beating 3-pointer in the NCAA Division II men’s basketball national semifinals helped Toussaint push his West Texas A&M team into its first national championship game.

Though the Buffs lost two days later, 80-54, to Northwest Missouri State, regaining that feeling is what Toussaint has chased for the past 12 months.

“The main thing I took away from it was how hard you have to work to get there, and how worth it that was once you get there,” said Toussaint, a sophomore guard at West Texas A&M and a Johnsburg graduate. “All season, you’re fighting and working to get back to that moment because you know how awesome it is.

“You want to experience it again.”

The highlight of Toussaint’s dramatic jumper has been retweeted nearly 1,000 times since it was first posted by CBS Sports Network.

A year later, Toussaint is still draining shots at a rapid pace. His career-high 88 made 3s rank third in the Lone Star Conference this season. But he has become more than just a long-range shooter since the Buffs lost their top three scorers from a year ago.

“I’ve had to take care of the ball more and be a second ball handler,” he said. “I’ve had to dribble more and create my own shot a lot more.”

Zach Toussaint

Zach Toussaint

With opponents well aware of his long-distance shooting, Toussaint has also made 74 2-point field goals this season. In his first two seasons combined, he made 31 2-pointers.

“Teams are really running me off the 3-point line and denying me the ball,” he said. “As soon as I get it, I can just go by them and finish with a floater or pull up and take a mid-range jumper.”

His career-best 15.3 points a game is second on the team for the Buffs (26-6), who are ranked 18th nationally and face No. 6 seed Midwestern State in Saturday’s semifinal of the LSC tournament at noon in Frisco, Texas.

West Texas A&M, which has won four LSC tournament titles in a row, is the No. 2 seed and is five wins away from returning to the NCAA Elite Eight.

“Every one of us plays with a chip on our shoulder,” said Toussaint, who is 49 points away from reaching 1,000 in his career. “We don’t have one guy who is going to lead us in scoring every game. We don’t care who scores.”

Loras baseball stuns Hawkeyes: D-III Loras College pulled a big baseball upset Tuesday with a road win against Big Ten Conference member Iowa, 3-1.

The Duhawks (3-0) earned the win thanks to the contributions of three former Fox Valley Conference athletes.

Starting pitcher Davis Pasco, a junior from Huntley, earned the win by holding Iowa scoreless over 6 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and striking out three Hawkeyes. Loras left fielder Chris Costantino (Huntley), a senior, had one of seven hits for the Duhawks’ offense. Sophomore right fielder Nick DiBenedetto (Crystal Lake South) was a pinch runner and played right fielder. He was credited with a stolen base in the win, which was only the second Loras victory against the Hawkeyes in 17 meetings.

Calvin stopper: Huntley grad Uchenna Egekeze, a sophomore men’s basketball forward at D-III Calvin University, was honored Feb. 22 as the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s Defensive Player of the Year and a second-team all-conference selection.

While starting 27 games for Calvin (20-8), Egekeze averaged 11.6 points and 4.0 rebounds a game. He led the team with 1.4 steals and 1.1 blocked shots a game.

The Knights earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament while reaching 20 wins for the first time since the 2014-2015 season. Calvin will open tournament play this weekend with the first two rounds at UW-Platteville.

Ignoffo claims OVC honor: The Ohio Valley Conference named Eastern Illinois junior Ryan Ignoffo (Cary-Grove) its Baseball Player of the Week on Monday.

In a doubleheader sweep against Tarleton State last week, Ignoffo hit .778 with four doubles, five RBIs, four runs scored and a home run. Through six games this season, Ignoffo leads the OVC with a .577 batting average and six doubles as a utility player for the Panthers (3-3).

He also ranks second in slugging percentage (.923) and third in total bases (24).

Lewis flies to GLVC division title: D-II Lewis University’s men’s basketball team claimed the Great Lakes Valley Conference’s East Division title this season.

Sophomore guard Beau Frericks (Cary-Grove) is the team’s third-leading scorer, averaging 9.8 points a game. His 42 three-pointers and 47% success rate from long range this season both lead the Flyers (16-10).

Lewis – which is 8-3 in its last 11 games – plays in the GLVC tournament semifinals at 8:30 p.m. Saturday against either Truman State or Indianapolis.

R-B grad shines for Badgers: Wisconsin senior women’s golfer Mackenzie Hahn shot a career-low round of 68 last week, helping her tie for ninth place individually at the Westbrook Invitational in Peoria, Ariz.

Hahn shot a 4-under-par 212 over three rounds at the 14-team event, where the Badgers placed sixth. The tournament was Hahn’s career-best individual finish, first top-10 placement and best career 54-hole total.

Hahn was one of only 10 players in the tournament field to record an eagle.

• Barry Bottino writes about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at barryoncampus@hotmail.com and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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