It’s been 37 years since Southern Illinois University Edwardsville met on a basketball court with the Stetson Hatters.
The time away from each other didn’t produce a different outcome for the Cougars.
SIUE wasted a double-double by junior forward Jalen Henry in a 80-72 loss to Stetson at Vadalabene Center on Wednesday.
Henry, a 6-foot-8 junior from Springfield, scored a career-best 28 points and 11 rebounds, but the rest of the Cougars struggled from the field, shooting just 38.3 percent.
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“He was the one guy that was good from start to finish,” said SIUE second-year coach Jon Harris. “Jalen is very capable on both ends, but it’s a shame the rest of the guys didn’t come along with him.
“We expect to win every time we lace them up. That performance tonight was not acceptable.”
The only other time SIUE met the Hatters was at Stetson’s DeLand, Fla., campus in 1979. Stetson won that meeting too.
Thursday’s game turned early when Stetson’s B.J. Glasford got a midcourt steal and finished the play with a goal-shaking jam that put the Hatters up by eight at the 11:40 mark. By halftime, Stetson had built a 37-20 advantage, on 45.2 percent shooting from the field.
Henry had 12 points at the half, but the Cougars as a team were just 6-of-24 from the field and, worse, wasted disproportionate opportunities at the free-throw line, where they finished just 23-of-41.
But the Cougars made a game of it, closing the margin to nine points late when Henry sparked a 17-7 run, and freshman Christian Ellis drained a 3-pointer with 2:08 left.
The Cougars got as close as seven points with five seconds left in the game.
SIUE shot better during its second-half rally, but finished at 38.3 percent from the field, including 3-of-18 from beyond the three-point arc.
Tre Harris, an Edwardsville High School graduate and Kansas State transfer, hit a pair of threes on his way to 12 points for SIUE.
Divine Myles led Stetson with 23 points and 14 rebounds to pace the Hatters, who put three others in double figures.
Stetson coach Corey Williams earned an NBA championship ring with Michael Jordan and the 1993 Chicago Bulls. He also was a draft pick for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and appeared in nine NCAA tournaments as both a player and assistant coach.
The Cougars (4-5) are back at Vadalabene Center for a 2 p.m. tipoff with Missouri Western on Saturday. They then hit the road for three in a row, including a Dec. 17 date against Saint Louis at Chaifetz Arena and a Dec. 21 game at Marquette, where Harris is among the Golden Eagles’ all-time leading rebounders.