GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Junior Kam Cerroni (Sussex, Wis.) has been playing at a high level for a few weeks for Green Bay (8-12, 4-6 HL). On Thursday night, with his team needing a bounce back effort to kick off a three-game homestand at the Resch Center, Cerroni took his game to an even higher level.
The sophomore made five three-pointers and hit 6-of-7 free throws en route to a career-high 23 points, helping the Phoenix to a convincing, wire-to-wire 75-60 victory over visiting Valparaiso (14-8, 7-3 HL) in Horizon League play. Cerroni scored 11 of Green Bay's points during a 15-5 run that turned a four-point lead (46-42) into a 61-47 margin with 7:49 to play.
In 10 games in the starting lineup, Cerroni is averaging 11.2 points per game and shooting 50.9 percent from long range (28-55). His 5-for-9 performance from beyond the arc on Thursday vaults the sophomore back atop the Horizon League rankings in three-point percentage (46.8%).
Cerroni's big night overshadowed great balance by the Phoenix, who placed four players in double figures, and a somewhat historic night for sophomore Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.). The 7-foot-1 Brown had 16 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots. The two swats by Brown give him 132 for his career and tie him with Terry Evans (2005-09) for the most in program history, a record that has looked inevitable to be broken by Brown since he had six in his college debut.
Brown will have a chance to hold the career record by himself on Saturday when Green Bay hosts Butler at 6 p.m. With 65 this season, Brown is also just three blocks shy of breaking his own single-season record of 67.
"It feels pretty cool," Brown said. "I don't really know what to say about it, I guess I just have to beat it now. And hopefully I can get the season one too."
Junior Brennan Cougill (Sioux City, Iowa) set the tone early for the Phoenix with the first two buckets of the game. After a Valpo three-pointer, freshman Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) scored the first three points of an 8-0 run to put the Phoenix up 12-3.
Green Bay's lead would be trimmed to as little as two on multiple occasions in the opening half, but the Phoenix took a 32-27 advantage into the locker room.
"Good win. We did the things we had to do in the game plan," said head coach Brian Wardle. "We made it a halfcourt game and I thought we did a good job in transition defense. We defended them, we made it a halfcourt game and we didn't turn the ball over. Those were a lot of the keys we had defensively and offensively and we were able to do that."
Cougill, who had nine points and six rebounds in the first half, finished the contest with 14 points and 10 boards for his second double-double of the season. Sykes, limited to just eight minutes in the opening half because of foul trouble, had 11 points, seven assists and zero turnovers. As a team, Green Bay tallied 13 assists and a season-low six turnovers.
"We really took care of the ball," said Cougill. "Looking at our stat sheet, we didn't have a single guy with more than one turnover. If we do that and we get our assist numbers up, we are a tough team to beat."
Green Bay held a 39-31 edge in rebounding despite playing against a Valpo team leading the Horizon League in rebound margin. Wardle gave Josh Humphrey (Chicago, Ill.) his first collegiate start, and the freshman delivered with nine rebounds, including six in the first half.
When the Phoenix hosts Butler on Saturday, it will be Throwback Night at the Resch Center, with the Green Bay players wearing retro uniforms. Promotions at the Resch Center will include retro jersey giveaways to the first 1,000 youth fans, ticket discounts and throwback concession prices.
Season tickets, Pick 5 packages and single-game tickets for both programs are currently on sale with the Green Bay ticket office. For more information on ticket packages and promotions, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com/tickets.
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