Rozell Nunn and Christian Salecich combined for 31 points, and the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Cougars held Murray State to a season-low 60 points in a 67-60 Ohio Valley Conference win Saturday in front of 2,787 at Vadalabene Center in Edwardsville.
"We need something from every guy," said SIUE coach Lennox Forrester, whose team improved to 6-13 and 3-3 in the OVC. "This is a really good league. For our guys to win and have success we have to play 40 minutes of great basketball."
Nunn led all scorers with a career-high 20 points on 8 of 12 shooting from the field. He also led the team with seven rebounds. The junior has combined for 35 points on 14-23 shooting and hauled in 13 rebounds over SIUE's last two games.
"We played good team defense, and the offense followed," Nunn said. "We had different guys step up and hit some clutch buckets down the stretch."
Salecich finished with 13 points thanks in large part to a 3 for 3 afternoon from beyond the 3-point arc. He was 4 for 7 overall and 2 for 2 at the free-throw line. He added four assists and three steals. Salecich's three-pointer with 8:33 to play put the Cougars in front for good at 54-53.
"The guys did a great job executing, and it just happened to be my night. When things get flowing for us and guys get open shots, we can look really good," Salecich said. "Murray State is a great team; you don't have to look at their resume to figure that out. We're going to enjoy this win, but we want to keep things moving forward."
Donivine Stewart was the only other SIUE player to score in double figures. He finished with 11 points, four rebounds and a game-high six assists.
The Racers scored the last five points of the first half to take a 37-32 lead into the break. Murray State had a six-point lead after a Jeffery Moss three-point basket made it 42-36 with 17:35 left in the game.
Moss led Murray State with 17 points. T.J. Sapp scored 11 points and Dexter Fields added 10 points. Jarvis Williams scored 8 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
The Racers held a 51-49 with 10:23 left, but were outscored 18-7 over the next 9:40, allowing SIUE to build its lead to nine (67-58) with a pair of Nunn free throws with 43 seconds left in the game.
The Cougars finished 27-54 (50 percent) from the field for the game, including connecting on 15 of 26 (57.7 percent) of their shots in the second half. For the game, SIUE outrebounded Murray State 35-34.
"We were much more patient offensively in the second half," Forrester said.
Murray State was 22-56 from the field and just 4 of 21 from three-point range.
"We've played more zone defense that I ever thought we would this season, but it's working for us," Forrester added."When something is working, you stick with it and today we did that."
SIUE heads back on the road for games at Southeast Missouri Thursday and UT Martin Saturday.
"We've been playing very well at home, but now we need to go on the road and win some games," Forrester said.
SIUE 71, Murray State 67
Freshman Alexis Chappelle drained four free throws in the final 13 seconds sealing SIUE's victory over Murray State.
"I wasn't thinking about much (during the free throws)," Chappelle said following the win. "I just wanted to go up to the line and knock them down."
The Cougars snapped a four-game losing streak to improve to 2-4 in the OVC. SIUE is 5-13 overall. Murray State dropped to 8-9 overall and 1-4 in conference play.
Chappelle's first two free throws extended the Cougars' lead to 69-65 with 13 seconds left. Murray State's Nikia Edom hit her own two free throws to move the Racers back within two with just more than five seconds left. Chappelle was fouled following the inbound play and drained the final two free throws with 4.7 seconds remaining for the final margin.
"Alexis showed some toughness to play through illness and hit some huge free throws at the end," SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher said. "She stayed calm and stayed poised."
SIUE raced out to an 11-0 lead, but Murray State rallied and into went halftime with a 33-29 advantage.
The teams traded the lead twice and were tied four times over the first nine-plus minutes in the second half.
SIUE built its lead to six three different times from that point forward. Jones drained a pair of free throws with 7:44 left to put the Cougars up 52-46. A layup by Austin with 3:23 left made it 61-55. Jones rolled in a layup with 1:56 to play to make it 67-61. Murray State got as close as two points on two different occasions but never could close the gap.
The Cougars raced out to an 11-0 lead Saturday with four different Cougars providing the points during the opening run. Tierny Austin opened the scoring with a three-pointer just 46 seconds into the game. CoCo Moore hit back-to-back layups before Micah Jones and Chappelle each scored.
"I loved our energy to start the game," Buscher added."It was tough for our players to get into a flow because of all the stoppages, but I thought we still managed to play well defensively."
Murray State used its own 11-0 run to even the score with a Jashae Lee basket with 14:36 to play before halftime.
The score was tied six more times during the first 20 minutes of play. It was 29-29 with 2:45 to go before the break when Murray State's Julia Fox had a personal 4-0 run to give the Racers a 33-29 advantage at halftime.
Ashley Capotosto hit a jumper with 10:33 to play to tie the game at 45. With 9:08 left Capotosto gave SIUE the lead for good. She added a free throw with 8:51 left to cap off a personal 5-0 run and extend the Cougars' lead to 48-45.
"Ashley is an all-energy player," Buscher said of the Cougar junior. "They weren't respecting her shot from the high post so I just told her to flash and score. She played confident and had a great game."
Austin led SIUE with 17 points. She was 7 of 11 from the field. She added seven rebounds. Jones finished a rebound shy of a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds. Capotosto was a point shy of her own double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Freshmen Janssen Starks and Julia Fox were the only players to score in double figures for the Racers.