EDWARDSVILLE — Southern Illinois University Edwardsville couldn't stand prosperity Thursday night.
After building a nine-point lead early in the second half, the Cougars fell apart in a 75-62 loss to Jacksonville State that extended their losing streak to four games.
SIUE, which led 40-31 with 17:28 to play, was outscored 21-2 over the next 6:29 as the Gamecocks took control in a Ohio Valley Conference game witnessed by a crowd of 1,903.
"They turned their pressure up and we melted," Cougars coach Lennox Forrester said. "I thought they were very good as far as pressuring us and our guys got very rattled.
"They couldn't take care of the basketball. They scored a lot to get back in the game off turnovers that led to easy buckets at the other end."
The Gamecocks (11-5 overall, 3-2 OVC) needed 22:12 to score their first 31 points. They required just 12:46 to score their next 31 as the Cougars (4-9, 0-3) offered little resistance down the stretch.
Jacksonville State entered the game with a reputation for scoring balance and did nothing to diminish that standard as five players reached double figures, led by junior Brian Williams' 19 points.
Senior Ronnie Boggs had 16 points off the bench, while senior Tarvin Gaines also had 14 in a reserve role. Junior Nick Cook had 12 points and seven rebounds and sophomore Darion Rackley had 11 points. Williams led all players with eight assists.
Gaines was the pivotal player in the long second-half run by Jacksonville State. He scored six consecutive points in a 1:01 span to get the Gamecocks within 40-37, and Cook's layup made it 40-39 with 15:28 to play.
After SIUE senior Jerome Jones scored in the lane to put the Cougars on top 42-39, Jacksonville State reeled off the next 13 points to lead 52-42. The margin swelled to 15 points in the final four minutes.
Jacksonville State scored 23 points off turnovers.
"It was turnovers leading to some easy baskets for them," Forrester said. "I called timeout to get them settled down, but it was just the same thing (after that).
"They're very skilled and well-balanced. It's not like you can take away one thing; you've got to take away a lot of things. But it's really hard to set your defense up when you're turning the basketball over and that's leading to easy baskets."
Jones led the Cougars in scoring with 15 points. Sophomore Mark Messer had 14 points and nine rebounds.
SIUE trailed for most of the first half, but closed with a flurry as it scored the final seven points to lead 32-29 at the break.
Rackley's 3-pointer, the fifth of the half by Jacksonville State, gave the Gamecocks a 29-25 lead with 2:10 to play.
But junior Tim Johnson hit a 3-pointer and Messer made two free throws to put the Cougars ahead 30-29 with 1:17 left.
Messer then popped a jumper from the left side of the lane just ahead of the buzzer to put the Cougars ahead by three. Messer led all players with 10 points and six rebounds in the first half.
"I thought he was solid," Forrester said. "One of the best things he did for us in the first half was he came up with some offensive rebounds. He kept some possessions alive."
Jacksonville State's biggest lead of the first half was 18-12 with 7:24 to play before intermission. The Cougars responded with a 9-3 run that included a three-point play from Jones.
Jones' initial shot was blocked by Williams, but Jones grabbed the loose ball and scored while being fouled by Gaines. Jones made the free throw to bring SIUE within 21-19.
Johnson followed with a 10-foot baseline jumper to deadlock the score at 21 at the 4:49 mark.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.