EDWARDSVILLE — Seven players were ejected Tuesday after tempers flared with 6:16 to play in the second half of the Southern Illinois University Carbondale vs. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville game.
SIUE senior Jerome Jones and Salukis sophomore Antonio Bryer became tangled as they fought for a rebound in front of the Cougars' bench. Jones had been battling senior Jeff Early for the loose ball when Bryer jumped in late and inadvertently elbowed Jones.
Jones got Bryer in a headlock as the two were on the floor, and players from both teams began scuffling a few feet away.
After the players were separated and order was restored, the game was delayed for 20 minutes as the officiating crew watched video to determine how to resolve the mess.
Finally, Jones and junior teammate Ray Lester were slapped with flagrant fouls and ejections. Four other SIUE players, seniors Mark Yelovich and Zeke Schneider and sophomores Charles Joy, of O'Fallon, and Kyle Heck were ejected for leaving the bench.
SIUC had just one player ejected, Bryer, who also was charged with a flagrant foul.
One fan also was ejected when he left the stands and came onto the court.
The Cougars, who lost 71-55, finished the game with seven players.
"What I said to our guys is you've always got to play smart," Cougars coach Lennox Forrester said. "The way you win basketball games is on the scoreboard, not because someone's competing against you and being physical.
"I just thought we lost our cool. It was a little bit of frustration on our end. We've just got to be a smarter and better team than that."
SIUC coach Barry Hinson said the situation wasn't as bad as it might appear considering seven players were dismissed from the game.
"Let's get one thing straight right now: I don't think there was any fighting going on," he said. "I don't think there was any fighting at all. I think it was a lot of chickens rolling around there, a little hen-pecking. But I don't think there was any fighting. I didn't see any punches thrown by anybody. I don't think anybody did anything just crazy."
Hinson was glad none of his players, who were at the other end of the floor, left the bench.
"The first thing I did is I turned and looked at the bench," Hinson said. "It was pretty good. Our guys stayed on the bench. That was a big play for us. We certainly can't have anybody miss the next game."
Forrester agreed that there wasn't much to the disagreement.
"I don't think there were any punches being thrown," he said. "I think there was just pushing and guys getting guys off each other. But again, our guys have to be smarter than that. Those are things we address before the season starts. You've got to behave and you've got to have sportsmanship --and you can't leave the bench."
The Cougars trailed 62-47 when the scuffle broke out. Forrester said his team had little chance to rally without the six players he lost.
"I thought our guys, just by the look on their faces during that long length of time, and knowing those guys were not going to be available to play, I just thought they had a defeated look," Forrester said. "In some ways, I kind of thought that was the ballgame right there."
Forrester isn't sure whether the players will have to miss more games.
"That's something we have to figure out tomorrow and get the ruling on that to know what we're going to have for the next game (Saturday at Texas-Pan American)," Forrester said. "It's a quick turnaround."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.