The growing pains continued for the Southwestern Illinois College Blue Storm on Wednesday in its opening basketball game of the Great Rivers Athletic Conference season.
Southeastern Illinois College guard Leon Redd connected on six 3-point field goal attempts, and the Falcons used an 11-1 scoring run midway through the second half to take command as they went on for a 68-58 win.
Playing without injured starters Naeem Freeman and Asante Patterson, SWIC (3-2) battled the more-experienced Falcons close for the first 30 minutes of the game. But with the score tied at 44 with just over 11 minutes remaining, Southeastern Illinois College took control of the game.
A pair of baskets by Mathew Nori helped key the Falcons’ run, which also included 3-point baskets by Redd and Cletrell Pope. An offensive rebound and basket by Richard Gaines gave Southeastern Illinois College a 55-45 lead with just over seven minutes remaining. SWIC would get no closer than six points the rest of the night.
The loss broke a three-game winning streak for the Blue Storm, which led for much of the first half, thanks to the play of freshman Teddy Fifer. A graduate of Metro East Lutheran High School, Fifer scored 11 of his 18 points in the first 20 minutes of the game.
“We had 25 turnovers, which there is no excuse for, and we had guys in the game who didn’t know the offense that we were in. It’s the same offense we run every day in practice, and we still have players who don’t know where they are supposed to be. There is no excuse for that either,” Blue Storm coach Jay Harrington said. “We punish them by making them in run in practice, and it does no good.
“It’s just very frustrating because we work on these things in practice. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
With Fifer leading the way, SWIC managed to stay in the game for much of the night. Fifer hit three of his five 3-point attempts in the first half. Freshman Jaalem Hill added eight of his 12 points in the opening half, while freshman guard Sekou Sangare chipped in with seven points.
Sangare, a 6-foot-4 guard who played high school basketball at Westside Academy in New York City, was the third Blue Storm player in double figures with 10 points.
“We didn’t do a good job on defense either,”’ Harrington said. “We told the kids not give up penetration, and (Southeastern) took the ball inside on us all night.”
In the women’s game
Southeastern Illinois 83,
Southwestern Illinois 49
Australian import Kate Staner was one of five Falcons in double figures with 16 points, as Southeastern Illinois College rolled past the Blue Storm in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
Tied at 17 following a 3-point basket by SWIC freshman Danielle Hawthorne early in the second quarter, the Falcons scored 16 straight points to take command.
Freshman Zaria Valle led SWIC (0-3) with 14 points.