Local Sports News: April 3, 2024

Indiana University Men’s Golfer Nick Piesen wins Don Benbow Butler Spring Invitational
Indiana Men’s Golf sent a group of individuals to compete in the weather-shortened Don Benbow Butler Spring Invitational hosted by Butler on Monday at the Highland Golf and Country Club. Freshman Nick Piesen earned his second-career collegiate victory after shooting a career-low 133 (68-65; -7). He strung together 12 total birdies during the 36 holes of golf on Monday with six coming in each round. Piesen also claimed medalist honors at the Cardinal Invitational on XX with a score of 134 (68-66; -6). The Strongsville, Ohio, native has placed top-20 in each of the three individual tournaments he has played this season for the Hoosiers. Junior Kieran Hogarth tied for 50th with a 36-hole score of 145 (76-69; +5). He converted five birdie attempts. Freshman Neri Checcucci shot a 146 (75-71; +6) with a birdie in each round. Fifth-year senior Eric Berggren played a scorecard of 147 (73-74; +7) with five total birdies. The Team competition will resume for Indiana with the Hoosier Collegiate from April 6-7 at The Pfau Course.  

Five Indiana University Wrestlers named NWCA Scholar All-Americans
The National Wrestling Coaches Association announced their list of Scholar All-Americans and five Hoosier wrestlers earned the prestigious honor. Indiana’s Dan Fongaro, Brayton Lee, Roman Rogotzke, Cayden Rooks and Graham Rooks all were named Scholar All-Americans. The five mark the most Scholar All-Americans the Indiana program has ever had in one season. The group made up five of 338 total student-athletes in all of Division I Wrestling to receive this distinction.

All five of Indiana’s honorees were starters in the team’s lineup this season. Dan Fongaro | Lincoln Park, N.J. | Law JD Brayton Lee | Brownsburg, Ind. | Safety Management Roman Rogotzke | Stillwater, Minn. | Management Cayden Rooks | Columbus, Ind. | Public Health Graham Rooks | Columbus, Ind. | Learning & Development

Indianapolis Colts re-sign Safety Julian Blackmon
Yet another Indianapolis Colt is returning, and it comes at a critical spot. Safety Julian Blackmon has agreed to a one-year contract. The 2020 third-round draft pick was one of several Colts whose contracts expired early in March, and one who tested his value on the open market. When he didn’t generate the level of interest he had anticipated, Blackmon and the Colts agreed to extend their relationship for another season.

Blackmon, 25, is coming off the best season of his career. Despite missing the final two games of the season with a shoulder injury, Blackmon led the Colts with four interceptions to go along with 88 tackles, five tackles for loss and eight passes defended. All were career highs. In four seasons, he’s started 46 of 50 games and collected seven interceptions. Prior to Blackmon’s return, the Colts top safeties were Nick Cross and Rodney Thomas II.

Blackmon also is the latest Colt to re-up with the team, joining cornerback Kenny Moore II, defensive tackle Grover Stewart, defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis, punter Rigoberto Sanchez, running back Trey Sermon, defensive end Genard Avery and safety/linebacker Ronnie Harmon Jr. Also, Michael Pittman Jr. returns with a three-year, $70 million contract and the team extended linebacker Zaire Franklin.

Indiana Pacers two-way Center Oscar Tshiebwe named NBA G League Rookie of the Year
Indiana Pacers two-way rookie center Oscar Tshiebwe has been named the 2023-24 NBA G-League Rookie of the Year, the Mad Ants organization announced Tuesday. Tshiebwe, an undrafted 2023 rookie, has played games for both the Pacers and the Indiana Mad Ants throughout this season. Now, his efforts with the Mad Ants are being rewarded. Despite falling out of the 2023 NBA Draft, Tshiebwe has now been named the best rookie player in the G-League this past season. In 33 games for the Mad Ants this year, Tshiebwe averaged 16.4 points and 16.1 rebounds per game.

Tshiebwe, 24, played college basketball at West Virginia and Kentucky after moving to the US from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, receiving consensus national player of the year honors in 2022 while playing for the Wildcats. The 6’8″, 260-pound Tshiebwe grew up playing soccer before going to a basketball camp led by Congolese NBA player Bismack Biyombo. Earlier this season, Tshiebwe participated in NBA All-Star Weekend festivities that were held in Indianapolis. The Mad Ants standout was selected to play in the Rising Stars Challenge alongside fellow Pacer player Bennedict Mathurin. Tshiebwe is currently on a two-way contract with the Indiana Pacers, meaning he can play for both the NBA team and the Mad Ants and his salary is dependent on which team he is currently playing for. When playing for the Pacers so far, this 2023-24 season, Tshiebwe has averaged 3.3 points and 2 rebounds per game on 50% shooting from the field.

Purdue University Women’s Basketball season ends in the WNIT Quarterfinals with a home loss to Vermont
The Purdue women’s basketball team saw its 2023-24 season come to a close in the WNIT Great 8 with a 67-59 loss to Vermont at Mackey Arena. The Boilermakers were led by their two active seniors who left it all on the court in their career finales. Abbey Ellis paced the Boilermakers (15-19) on the offensive end with 16 points. The Australian’s final made basket with 32 second left in the fourth gave her exactly 2,000 points for her career. Ellis etched her name in the Purdue record books with the second-highest career free throw percentage at 87.2%, while her 1,182 points ranks 29th most by a Boilermaker.

Jeanae Terry went for 11 points, five assists and five rebounds on Monday. The fifth-year senior set Purdue’s single-season assist record with 202 helpers. The first player in Big Ten men’s or women’s basketball history with 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 700 assists, Terry closed her career with 575 assists in just three seasons as a Boilermaker, ranking third in program history. Terry is the only player in Purdue history to record multiple triple-doubles, while also holding the record for non-point double-doubles with five. Sixth-year senior Caityln Harper whose season came to a close due to an injury on senior night, finished her time in West Lafayette ranked sixth in field goal percentage.

While the seniors stood out in their final games, Purdue’s freshmen showed off the future of the program. Rashunda Jones went 6-of-8 at the line to finish with 12 points, four rebounds, one assist and one steal. Mary Ashley Stevenson finished three points shy of a double-double. The New York City native tallied seven points, while setting career highs with 13 rebounds and four assists. The Big Ten Freshman of the Year notched her 11th game with at least seven points and rebounds, the most in the Big Ten. She finished her freshman season with 174 rebounds, seventh most by a rookie in program history.

Ellis powered Purdue in the first half with a game-high 11 points. The Boilermakers shot 41.9% from the field, while holding Vermont (25-11) to just 32.3% shooting. Purdue led 29-23 at the break. Vermont found its shooting touch in the final 20 minutes. The guests went 16-of-23 for a 70% clip. The Boilermakers got to the free throw line 20 times in the second half but managed 14 makes. Purdue stayed within two possessions for much of the fourth quarter, before the guests went on a 10-2 run to put the game out of reach.

Former Indiana University Men’s Basketball C.J. Gunn will transfer to De Paul University in Chicago
There will be a Big Ten reunion in Chicago. C.J. Gunn had one of his better games with Indiana against Ohio State and then head coach Chris Holtmann in January. Now both Gunn and Holtmann are set to join forces at DePaul next season. Gunn announced his transfer to the Chicago-based Big East school on his social media accounts. The 6-foot-6 Gunn averaged 3.9 points and shot 34.2 percent from the field this season. Gunn delivered some key performances, including an eight-point, four-steal game in a win at Michigan, and a 10-point effort in a home win over Ohio State.

While he had some encouraging moments, Gunn was not able to become the consistent two-way wing Indiana needed this season.  His minutes dropped off as the season progressed.  Gunn did not play at all in four games and played 10 or fewer minutes in 14 contests. For his IU career, Gunn made 19-of-74 threes (25.7%) and he made just 38.6% from the field overall. As a freshman, Gunn played in 20 games and averaged 2.0 points. Gunn originally committed to Archie Miller’s staff in February, 2021 out of Lawrence North H.S. in Indianapolis.  He chose to remain committed to IU when the Hoosiers hired Mike Woodson the following month. Gunn left high school as the all-time leader in LN history in points per game average.  He averaged 23.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals per game as a senior while shooting 46.8% from the field and 37.4% from deep. Gunn has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Follow us on Facebook

Image result for Facebook button

For more local news . . . Check out our archived episodes of What’s Happenin’ and Talkin’ Sports with Nick Jenkinson