EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – For the first time in nearly two months, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville men’s basketball was defeated on its home floor. The Cougars fell to Belmont 94-75 Wednesday in Ohio Valley Conference action at the Vadalabene Center.
The loss snapped a six-game home winning streak for the Cougars, who fell to 7-8 in OVC play and 11-18 overall. Belmont improved to 22-8 overall and 13-2 in the OVC.
“Belmont is a very good team,” SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. “That’s why they’re in position to win another OVC regular season title. They’re well-coached. They have good players. And they’re very fundamentally sound.”
The Cougars knocked down 28 of 57 attempts from the field (49.1 percent) but were unable to slow Belmont’s offensive attack. For the game, the Bruins connected on 56.5 percent (35-62) of their shots from the field. They shot 60 percent from the floor in the second half.
“I don’t think we gave them our best shot, but that’s partly because of how they play,” Forrester said. “They took us out of our rhythm offensively, and when we made mistakes, they burned us. That’s a sign of a really good team.”
The Bruins held a 48-32 lead at halftime, but the Cougars began the second half strong. SIUE hit its first four shots in the second period to trim Belmont’s lead to 10 at 50-40 with 17:41 left in the game.
As quickly as the Cougars had trimmed the lead, the Bruins then extended it. Belmont used a 19-8 run to open up its largest lead of the game, 21 points. Reece Chamberlain’s tip in with 11:08 to play made it 69-48. The closest the Cougars came from that point on was 13 points when Tim Johnson’s three-point play with 5:08 left cut the BU lead to 78-65.
Johnson scored 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting to lead SIUE. He was 2 of 3 from 3-point range and 4 of 5 from the free throw line. Donivine Stewart finished with 17 points and five assists. Keaton Jackson scored 11 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Rozell Nunn scored 10 points.
J.J. Mann led Belmont with 25 points. He was one of four Bruins to score in double figures. Evan Bradds scored 20 points. Reece Chamberlain added 18 points and Nick Smith scored 11.
The Bruins outrebounded SIUE 38-25 and scored 55 points in the paint.
SIUE finishes the regular season Saturday at home against Eastern Illinois. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. and will be broadcast live on FOX Sports Midwest. The Cougars will honor three seniors prior to the game.