Salukis never trail, remain undefeated with 21- point win over North Dakota

Southern+Illinois+Saluki+Guard%2C+Lance+Jones%2C+brings+the+ball+down+court+to+score+against+the+Bradley+Braves+during+the+Missouri+Valley+Comfrence+at+the+St.+Louis+Enterprise+Center.+The+Bradley+Braves+beat+Southern+64+to+59+at+the+game+on+Friday%2C+March+6%2C+2020.

Nicole Tillberg | @Nicoletillberg315

Southern Illinois Saluki Guard, Lance Jones, brings the ball down court to score against the Bradley Braves during the Missouri Valley Comfrence at the St. Louis Enterprise Center. The Bradley Braves beat Southern 64 to 59 at the game on Friday, March 6, 2020.

Saluki men’s basketball (4-0) defeated the North Dakota Fighting Hawks (1-6) 85 to 64 at the Banterra Center on Saturday. The Salukis used a run at the end of the first half to get a 17 point halftime lead and remain undefeated this season. 

The Salukis’ leading scorers were sophomore guards Lance Jones and Ben Harvey with 18 points each. The pair shot a combined five-for-seven from three and also added six steals. 

Jones said the team works on threes in practice every day.

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“We’re shooting the ball with confidence and we put in the work behind closed doors so the work we put in is gonna come to light,” Jones said. 

Mullins said he thought the team shared the ball well. 

“I don’t remember too many contested threes, so I think continuing to make the extra pass to pass up good shots to get great shots and we’ve got a bunch of unselfish guys in our locker room,” Mullins said.

Jones was able to record a game-high five steals against the Fighting Hawks. 

“Just being at the right place at the right time, being on the help side and being in the right gaps on defense,” Jones said. 

Mullins said he was proud of the defensive effort by the Salukis.

“I thought we came out really focused on the defensive end, North Dakota with great stuff offensively they have a lot of talented guys. The put five guys out there who can all make threes so it puts your defense at a disadvantage a lot of times,” Mullins said. 

The Fighting Hawks’ leading scorers were redshirt sophomore guard Caleb Nero and sophomore forward Gertautas Urbonavicius, both scoring 13 points. 

The Salukis closed out the first half on a 20-4 run.

Harvey opened the scoring for the game with a three pointer assisted by Jones. Junior forward Filip Rebraca scored first for the Fighting Hawks on a free throw to make the game 3-1. 

Freshman center Kyler Filewich scored five consecutive points to give the Salukis a 10-4 lead just over a quarter of the way through the first half. Urbonavicius and sophomore guard Trent Brown matched threes to make it 13-7. 

North Dakota was able to cut the lead to 17-16 but the Salukis responded in a big way, scoring sixteen consecutive points. The run was led by five points from freshman guard Dalton Banks and five by Jones. 

Freshman guard Tyree Ihenacho was able to end the run and scored the first points by North Dakota in over seven minutes with just over two minutes left in the half. Junior Forward Mitchell Sueker was able to score to cut the lead to 33-20.

After a timeout called by Mullins, the Salukis added four points to end the half on layups by Harvey and Banks to take a 17 point lead to the half. 

The Fighting Hawks opened up the second half on a 17-7 run including an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 44-37 six minutes into the half. 

After a timeout the Salukis responded with an 11-2 run with eight points from Jones to get the lead back to 16. 

The rest of the way North Dakota wasn’t able to cut the lead any lower than 11 and the Salukis 12-4 run to get a final score of 85-64. 

The Salukis next game will be Friday at 3 P.M. against North Dakota again at the Banterra Center.

Sports reporter Ryan Scott can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @RyanscottDE. 

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