Lindenwood University’s men’s basketball team held the nation’s leading scorer to just 11 points as it won its first-round Heartland of America Athletic Conference Tournament game by an 82-75 score over Evangel on Thursday night.
Terre Haute North grad Andre Dickson scored 16 points as Lindenwood improved to 19-12 on the season going into Saturday night’s game against HAAC regular-season champion Mid-America Nazarene.
Dickson is winding down a successful Lindenwood career which saw him earn all-HAAC honors last year and has seen him rank among the league leaders in assists and free percentage over the past two seasons.
Lindenwood Coach Ryan Cherepkai, also a Terre Haute native, was contacted out of the blue by Dickson — a 2002 North grad — and quickly agreed to take him into the Lions’ program.
“I originally remember Andre playing at the Boys Club in the mid 90’s as a little guy while my brother [Ross] and I were playing against his two older brothers [Nate and John],” Cherepkai recalls. “Andre and I somewhat found each other as he saw that Luke Blank signed with us, then he e-mailed me asking if we were interested in having him play for us, of course I remembered him being an Indiana All-Star type player and it was a no-brainer for us.”
Dickson has started 25 of 31 games this season, averaging 10.8 points, 2.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. He is shooting .412 from the field.
Dickson is a little older than the traditional college-aged student-athlete, and Cherepkai thinks that’s a benefit to him.
“He has been steady as well as spectacular in his two years for us,” Cherepkai said. “The advantages of him being a little older are that he takes nothing for granted and understands exactly what we need for him as our point guard to do to have success. Andre has some people very interested in his services overseas next year, and I believe that the interest will only increase as his career comes to a close.
“He has been great to coach over the last few years and I will definitely miss him on both sides of the ball next year.”
Since graduating from North seven years ago, Dickson has attended two different junior colleges, dropped out for a while, moved to Buffalo, N.Y., and then started to get the itch to play again.
“I started to miss playing the game so I went to Mayville State in North Dakota, didn’t like it there so got ahold of Cherp and I enrolled at LU,” Dickson said. “My career has been a helluva ride. Through all the setbacks and injuries, it’s been great and I’ve loved every moment.”
Included on that ride was a serious back injury during an automobile accident as a youngster.
“Things didn’t go quite the way I had planned but everything happens for a reason. I’m happy with the way things turned out, and through my journey through college I’ve met some great people.”
Several former Lindenwood players have had overseas careers, and while Dickson would like the opportunity to continue his career he is also planning for the day when he no longer takes the court.
“I’ve been getting contacted by some agency about playing overseas,” he said. “Sports management is what I’m studying, and I’m in the process of taking the test to become a sports agent. Mainly I’m going to go into business.”
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• Craft shooting well — Terre Haute South freshman Megan Craft has continued her outstanding shooting skills as a member of the Vincennes University women’s basketball team this year.
VU (22-8) hosted 10th-ranked Monroe Community College Tribune on Saturday night in a NJCAA District Tournament game, playing for a chance to go to the NJCAA National Basketball Championship.
VU used an 11-game winning streak in the second half of the season to put itself in such a good position.
Craft has done her share and more, averaging 7.4 points and 2.4 assists per game for the 18th highest scoring team in the country.
She ranks ninth in the country in 3-point percentage at 49 percent, hitting 48 of 98 treys. Craft also is shooting .512 from the field (63-123) and .872 from the line (41-47).
VU is leading the nation in free throw percentage. The 362-for-499 performance yields a 72.5-percent clip at the charity stripe.
VU is also in the NJCAA’s top 5 in 3-point field goal percentage with 56 percent (fourth in the country).
Sophomore Hope Elam, who will be transferring to Indiana, remains the nation’s fourth-leading scorer and rebounder.
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches and coaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.