Soutthern Illinois University Edwardsville men’s basketball won its fourth consecutive home game Wednesday, defeating Crowley’s Ridge 77-48 in nonconference action at the Vadalabene Center
The Cougars improved to 8-14 overall. Crowley’s Ridge dropped to 9-10.
After a shaky start, which saw the Pioneers go up by five (8-3), the Cougars rebounded with a 19-2 run to lead 22-10. Ray Lester’s layup with 6:52 left in the half punctuated the run. The Cougars led 36-21 at halftime.
“I thought our guys started off slow,” SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. “I told them at halftime, you have to play hard all the time. If you don’t play hard, any team can beat you. I thought we picked it up in the second half.”
SIUE used a 63 percent (17-27) shooting performance in the second half to outscore the Pioneers 41-27. After a pair of free throws by the Pioneers’ Tim Shepard cut the lead to 13 points (36-23) less than a minute into the half, SIUE outscored Crowley’s Ridge 35-12 to take its largest lead of the game, 36 points, with 6:56 remaining. The Cougars shot 56.5 percent (31-55) for the game, and won the rebounding battle 36-32.
Tim Johnson led all scorers with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting. He added six rebounds in the win. Donivine Stewart scored 14 points and added four assists. Maurice Wiltz scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting and was 2 for 4 from 3-point range. Christian Salecich scored nine points and led the team with eight rebounds. Keaton Jackson added four points, six rebounds and a career-best five blocks. It is the most blocks in a game by an SIUE player since 2009.
Josh Longino was the only player to score in double figures for Crowley’s Ridge. He scored 12. Skylor Guess and Tim Shepard each scored nine points. Shepard hauled in a game-high nine rebounds.
SIUE returns to Ohio Valley Conference play Saturday with a 2 p.m. tipoff at Eastern Illinois.
“We have another tough challenge Saturday in conference play,” Forrester said. “It’s the second half of the season, and we need to do a much better job in the second half than we did in the first half.”