By MidMajority.com standards, it was a banner night in the Horizon League, as Butler, Cleveland State and Green Bay all recorded "red-line upsets" Wednesday night. Loyola added the fourth win of the night, handing the League a 4-3 mark on the evening.
Butler (7-4) continued its return to form, using an early run to open a 15-point lead and holding on in the second half in a 74-62 win over Utah in the opening round of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. Defending Horizon League Player of the Week Matt Howard picked up where he left off on the mainland, recording a game-high 23 points; the output was the third straight game the senior cleared 20 points.
Howard was joined in double figures by Ronald Nored, who matched his career high with 16 points; Nored helped blunt three separate Utah runs in the second half, knocking down buckets after the Utes had cut the Butler lead to six, seven and eight points at various points of the second half.
The Bulldogs advanced to a semifinal meeting with Florida State on Thursday night; the game will be carried live on ESPN2 at 10 p.m. ET.
Cleveland State (13-1) started the night on the right foot, rallying for a 69-62 win over South Florida at the Wolstein Center. Taking their first lead with 12 minutes to play, the Vikings refused to relinquish the advantage the remainder of the game. Norris Cole made sure Cleveland State pulled away down the stretch, scoring 17 of his game-high 27 points over the same period.
Turnovers told the story of the contest, as the Vikings set a new school record by committing just four miscues on the night; conversely, Cleveland State forced 24 South Florida turnovers, converting those into 22 points.
Jeremy Montgomery supplemented Cole's effort with 21 points, as the duo brought the Vikings back from a 41-36 deficit; eight straight points by Cole gave CSU a 44-43 lead and Montgomery ensured that Cleveland State would not squander the victory, knocking down a three to help the Vikings build a five-point advantage late.
Green Bay (6-7) trailed for most of the game, but Rahmon Fletcher came alive late with 16 second-half points in leading the Phoenix to a 68-62 victory at Wyoming. Holding the Cowboys without a field goal for the final 11:48 of the night enabled Green Bay to overcome a 48-43 deficit in the same span.
The Phoenix hit all seven of their three-point field goals in the second half, led by Fletcher, who was 5-for-5 in the game's final 20 minutes. With 2:23 to go, Fletcher gave Green Bay the lead for good, knocking down his fifth and final triple.
Up just two with the shot clock running down late, it was fellow senior Bryquis Perine who hit the dagger, knocking down the Phoenix's seventh three of the half, making a two-point game a 67-62 bulge with just 18 ticks left.
Wrapping up its home-and-home with Texas-Pan American, Loyola (9-4) found its stride in the second half, using a balanced effort to knock of the host Broncos, 84-76. Down a single point at the half, the Ramblers shot 58 percent in the second half to pull away for the win.
Geoff McCammon led the way with 16 points, while Courtney Stanley touched off a 9-0 run that gave Loyola the lead for good early in the second half with two of his 10 points.
Terrance Hill came off the bench to add 15 points, while Ben Averkamp finished in double figures for the third straight game for the first time in his career, racking up 13 points. Walt Gibler added 12 for the Ramblers, who went 9-2 in non-conference games in 2010.