The men’s basketball team defeated St. Benedictine in decisive fashion, winning 100-62 Saturday night.
The Salukis shot 66.7 percent in the contest and made 25 of 32 shots in the second half, shooting 78 percent in the last 20 minutes.
The shot selection improved for Southern Illinois as the team made four of six shots from 3-point distance after halftime, while only completing one of its first six shots from distance in the first period.
Five players scored double-digit points for the Salukis, who were led by senior guard Jeff Early’s 19-point effort. Senior guard T.J. Lindsay made two of the team’s five 3-point shots and ended the night with 15 points. Freshman guard Anthony Beane Jr. completed eight of nine shots from the field for 16 points and accounted for four assists.
“I think when your ball club shoots 65 percent from the field, you have to be doing something right,” SIU head coach Barry Hinson said. “It all starts from throwing the ball inside and producing from the interior. I thought we did a better job of reversing the basketball and a better job of distributing the basketball.”
Sophomore forward Dantiel Daniels added 14 points in 18 minutes for the Salukis in his first game back from a groin injury. The sophomore also blocked two shots and made five of his six freethrows.
“I’ve been away for a while now … It feels good to be back out there,” Daniels said. “As far as offense goes, we executed well, and our transition game was good.”
The Salukis were especially good at distributing the ball and played very unselfish basketball. The team scored 62 points in the paint and had 18 points off fast break opportunities. Southern Illinois passed for 22 total assists and all of its players scored at least one field goal.
Lindsay said the team had been practicing better ball movement all week.
“Twenty assists was the number we wanted to get tonight,” he said. “we did a better job moving the ball and attacking their zone.”
The Bulldogs of St. Benedictine were able to use the zone defense effectively in the first half, holding a more athletic and talented Saluki team to just one 3-point field goal and only eight assists on six turnovers.
However, Hinson and his staff were able to decipher the zone in the second half and scored 58 points after the half.
“I heard from everybody in this region that we don’t do well against a zone, so we’ve been practicing against a zone,” Hinson said. “I thought we attacked the zone about as well as a lot of teams I’ve had.”
The Salukis allowed the Bulldogs to shoot 46 percent from 3-point distance. Hinson said such a poor defensive effort is unacceptable and changes to the starting rotation are under consideration.
“We’re not playing the right guys,” he said. “We are (playing) to guard and our starters didn’t guard tonight.”
Hinson said before the game he wrote a two word message to his team — Ohio Dominican. The Division II opponent defeated the Salukis by a point last year. The first-year coach for the Salukis said Saturday night’s contest was a statement game.
“We wanted to send a message to non-Division I schools,” he said. “You’re not going to come here and beat us.”
The Saluki men will travel to Edwardsville on Nov. 20 to face the SIUE Cougars.