For the second time in as many road games, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville men’s basketball had a second half-comeback fall short, falling at Southeast Missouri State 82-78 in Ohio Valley Conference basketball at the Show Me Center.
“I thought our guys put forth a great effort,” SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. “What I am disappointed in is that we don’t come out and play like we need to play and like we did down the stretch.”
Both teams are now 3-4 in the OVC. SIUE fell to 6-14 overall. The Cougars are now 0-9 in road games. SIUE is 1-6 in games decided by five points or less. Southeast Missouri improved to 11-9.
The Cougars got out to a quick start, connecting on their first three attempts from 3-point range, and led 9-4 with 17:28 to play in the first half. Southeast Missouri held a 28-24 lead following a pair of Tim Johnson free throws with 8:45 left. The Redhawks then used a 22-1 run over nearly seven minutes to lead 50-25 with 1:58 left before half. The Cougars reeled off the final 10 points of the period and SEMO held a 50-35 lead at the break.
“We did a poor job attacking their zone. We did a poor job on the glass,” Forrester added. “There were loose balls that we didn’t come up with. We did so many things to ourselves. We had opportunities and we didn’t take them.”
After hitting the first three attempts from beyond the arc, SIUE finished the half 4 of 15.
SIUE spent the second half chipping away at the Redhawks lead. Tyler Stone put Southeast Missouri up 54-37 with a layup with 17:52 remaining, when the Cougars started on another run. Rozell Nunn hit a jumper and bonus free throw with 11:56 left to complete a 16-3 Cougar run and pull SIUE within four points at 57-53. Southeast Missouri built its lead to seven once during the rest of the half, but the Cougars answered.
“Our backs were against the wall, so we were doing some things we worked on in practice,” Forrester said. “Our execution was much better, offensively.”
Nunn nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing with 42 seconds to play to cut the SEMO lead to 78-75. Donivine Stewart was fouled and hit a pair of free throws with nine seconds left which made it 78-77.
The Redhawks closed out the game with four free throws in the game’s final four seconds.
“To win on the road we have to be tougher mentally and physically,” Forrester added.
Nunn led five Cougars players to score in double figures. Nunn scored 15 points. It was the third straight game Nunn has led SIUE in scoring. Stewart, Johnson, and Maurice Wiltzall scored 14 points in the loss. Keaton Jackson added 10 points.
Jarekious Bradley led the Redhawks with 18 points. Tyler Stone scored 15 points. Nino Johnson added 13 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds. Josh Langford scored 10 points and also hauled in nine rebounds.
SIUE remains on the road to face UT Martin Saturday afternoon. Tip off is set for 4 p.m.