College Sports

Salukis drop Cougars in battle of Southern Illinois

SIUE Cougars guard Christian Ellis goes up for a layup against SIUC’s Rudy Stradnieks during the second half of their game Wednesday night.
SIUE Cougars guard Christian Ellis goes up for a layup against SIUC’s Rudy Stradnieks during the second half of their game Wednesday night. SIUE Athletics

A season-high four players scored in double figures for the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Cougars on Wednesday, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a hot-shooting SIU Carbondale team.

The Salukis downed the Cougars 86-59 at SIU Arena.

The Salukis (3-2) improved to 9-1 all-time against the Cougars (1-5), and the 27-point landslide was the largest margin of victory in the history of the series. All five starters scored in double figures for SIUC, led by Sean Lloyd’s 19 points, which matched a career high.

Their victory snapped a two-game losing streak and improved SIU’s record to 2-0 at home.

“When you get your butt beat two times in a row, if you don’t come out with a little bit of fire, you have a problem,” said SIUC head coach Barry Hinson.

The margin of victory Wednesday could have been larger if not for big runs by SIUE at the end of both halves. The Salukis led by as many as 41 points with less than five minutes to go in the second half before the Cougars closed the game on a 13-0 run.

The Cougars have lost three straight.

“We have to take it one game at a time, and we have to find a way to be better, bottom line,” SIUE head coach Jon Harris said.

Cougars senior Jalen Henry collected his second double-double of the season and fourth of his career with 11 points and 11 rebounds. He added two assists, two steals and a block.

“He did some good things,” Harris said. “He is playing good basketball. Now he has to be a leader, a voice in our locker room.”

Christian Ellis scored 16 points to lead SIUE in scoring for the second straight game. Jaylen McCoy connected on three three-pointers and scored a career-high 13 points.

“I was glad to see Jaylen McCoy to have success,” Harris said. “He’s a kid that has worked. He has not had a lot of opportunity to play, but he stepped up, and he was ready. That’s not easy to do, so I give him a lot of credit.”

Daniel Kinchen scored 12 points.

The Cougars struggled through a slow start, opening the game 0 for 10 from the field. SIUE connected on just 19 percent (6 of 31) of its shots in the first half and trailed 35-22 at halftime.

“(SIUC) did some good things on us defensively,” Harris said. “We missed some shots, but they did a good job guarding us.”

SIUC used a 66.7-percent shooting performance in the second half to run away with the game. The Salukis were 31 of 58 (53 percent) for the game from the field and pushed their lead to as many as 41.

“As poorly as we played and as poorly as we shot (in the first half), we were down 13 at halftime,” Harris added, “At that point, you have to re-program your mind. We were right there. That’s a handful of possessions. You find a way to compete a little harder in the second half, and that’s a different result.”

The Cougars finished 17 of 58 (29.3 percent) overall including 4 of 24 (16.7 percent) from 3-point range.

In addition to Lloyd’s personal best, the Salukis’ Kavion Pippen (13 points, 13 rebounds) and Jonathan Wiley (12 points, 10 rebounds) also recorded double-doubles. Aaron Cook added 13 points, and Armon Fletcher scored 11.

Following a day off Thursday, SIUE returns to practice Friday and Saturday ahead of a road game Sunday at Fort Wayne.

“We’ll hit it hard on Friday and Saturday,” Harris said. “We need to have two really good days of practice and go out there and see what happens.”