BY CHAD DARE
Danville first-year coach Ted Houpt never imagined seeing any team wanting a win more than his Vikings.
But on Tuesday night, that’s exactly what Houpt saw against the Urbana Tigers in a Big 12 Conference contest.
Urbana outhustled and outworked Danville for a 59-49 victory.
“It looked like they wanted it a little more than we did, and that’s not something I ever wanted to say, or ever thought I would say. I’m including myself in this,’’ Houpt said. “We didn’t look like a team that was prepared to do battle.’’
And the Tigers (3-3 overall, 1-1 in the Big 12) didn’t just win one phase of the game against the Vikings (2-5, 1-2).
Urbana was better offensively and defensively, as Danville shot an awful 13 percent from 3-point range (3-of-23) and the Vikings committed 18 turnovers, while allowing the Tigers to score 36 second-half points.
“We just broke down on defense,’’ Danville senior Te’Von Hutcherson said. “I think that really got us, because we were giving up easy layups.
“We were hesitant and very passive on defense and that carried over to the offense.’’
Danville could never figure out a way to breakdown the Urbana zone defense, instead the Vikings relied on its outside shooting attack.
“They put on a press that was similar to what we saw from Lincoln and Morton, but we handled it better against those teams,’’ Houpt said. “We couldn’t get the ball to the middle. It made us very passive. We settled for 3-pointers and they weren’t falling.’’
And even when Danville got the ball inside or had an opportunity for an offensive rebound basket, the Vikings struggled with their shooting, making just 4-of-9 shots inside the lane.
“Our 3-point percentage was terrible, but our putbacks and layups — we didn’t shoot a high percentage there either, and they did,’’ Houpt said. “We were hoping, instead of getting something done. I think that’s what 3-pointers are. You hope you can flurry three 3-pointers in a row, hit a flurry, get back into it. That’s hope basketball.
“We don’t want to be in the habit of hoping we can knock down some baskets.’’
While Houpt was very disappointed in his team, he was also very complimentary of Urbana.
“They were hardworking, smart, scrappy team that was doing anything to win the game and we were back on our heels,’’ he said. “We didn’t play with the energy that we played with all year.
“We’ve had losses this year. We had a triple overtime loss (to Lincoln) and it doesn’t hurt like this one. This is one that we could have won, but I know for a fact that we could compete at a higher level.’’
Houpt acknowledged that his team might have looked past the Tigers, who lost to Champaign St. Thomas More on Saturday night.
“I have no idea why we would overlook anybody,’’ he said. “You have to respect the game, you have to come out ready to play.’’
And Hutcherson, who had a team-high 11 points, admitted it’s something that will not happen again with the Vikings.
“You should never underestimate a team, and we will never do that again,’’ he said. “We should have won this game, but we didn’t come out with the heart it took to win.’’
Donald McKinley had a game-high 16 points for Urbana, while Shimaaz Ivy finished with 15 for the Tigers.
Up next for Danville is a home game this Friday against Normal Community. The sophomore game will start at 6 p.m. with the varsity set for 7:30.
In the sophomore game, Urbana held off Danville 38-37 as the Vikings missed a 3-pointer in the final 10 seconds.
Aubrey Duncan led the Vikings with 11 points, while Anthony Thomas chipped in with eight.