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Cougars hand Racers first OVC loss

By   /  January 18, 2014  /  No Comments

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Rozell Nunn and Christian Salecich combined for 31 points, and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville men’s basketball held Murray State to a season-low 60 points in a 67-60 Ohio Valley Conference win Saturday in front of 2,787 at the Vadalabene Center.

Christian Salecich / Photo by SIUE Sports Information

Christian Salecich / Photo by SIUE Sports Information

SIUE dealt Murray State its first OVC loss of the season, while improving to 3-3 in league play and 6-13 overall. The Racers are now 10-8 overall and 5-1 in the OVC. The win is the second straight for SIUE in the series with Murray State; both wins have come in Edwardsville.

“We need something from every guy,” SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. “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 3-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 3-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 3-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 the University of Tennessee 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.

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