Salukis never trail, hold on for first conference win over Evansville

Southern+Illinois+University+Saluki+number+one+forward%2C+Marcus+Domask%2C+jumps+for+a+basket+basket+during+the+basketball+game+against+the+Evansville+Purple+Aces+in+the+SIU+Banterra+Center.+The+game+ended+53+to+70+with+SIU+taking+the+win+on+Thursday+night%2C+February+20%2C+2020.

Nicole Tillberg | @nicoletillberg315

Southern Illinois University Saluki number one forward, Marcus Domask, jumps for a basket basket during the basketball game against the Evansville Purple Aces in the SIU Banterra Center. The game ended 53 to 70 with SIU taking the win on Thursday night, February 20, 2020.

The Salukis (7-0; 1-0 MVC) claimed their first Missouri Valley Conference win of the 2020-21 season on Saturday at Banterra Center, 63-57 over University of Evansville and remain undefeated overall in the season. 

The Salukis held a slight lead over Evansville after jumping out to a 28-19 half time lead.  The Salukis never lost their advantage, even after a late Evansville push in the second half. 

Sophomore guard Lance Jones led the scoring for the Salukis with 19 points, scoring all of his points in the second half including eight free throws late in the game.

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Sophomore forward Marcus Damask was the Salukis’ only other double-digit scorer with 14 points. 

Jones spoke on how he was able to get so many free throws in the second half: “Attacking down hill, being aggressive, playing off of two feet, what my coaches preach all the time and just trying to get into the body and draw a foul,” Jones said. 

Junior guard Jawaun Newton led the scoring for the Aces with 13 points, and senior guard Noah Frederking added 12. 

Sophomore guard Ben Harvey opened the scoring for the Salukis just 24 seconds in on a jumper. Brown added two points to get the score to 4-0. Senior forward Jax Levitch then made a three for Evansville but Brown added three points back after getting fouled on a three pointer to get the lead to 7-3.

After an over three minute scoring drought by Evansville, Newton quickly added five points for the Aces to get the score to an 11-8 Salukis lead. The Salukis then went on a 14-5 run behind four points by Domask as well as an and-one by freshman center Kyler Filewich to get the lead up to 25-13. 

The teams then went back and forth for a few minutes with the score at 28-19 with 3:43 remaining in the half and neither team was able to add on another point. 

Jones said the team had to stay locked in to hold the Aces scoreless during that time when the Salukis offense was struggling. 

“Coach always preaches don’t break when things aren’t going our way. Offensively or defensively he just wants us to stay locked in and try to get a stop and not break on defense and play as hard as we can,” Jones said. 

Head Coach Bryan Mullins also commented on their first half defensive effort.

“I thought our first half defense was pretty good, the guys were connected for the most part. We gave up a couple open threes but the guys were on top of the game plan,” Mullins said.

The second half saw some quick scoring as Jones quickly got an and-one for the Salukis to get the lead up to 12. 

Junior Guard Shamar Givance responded for the Aces making back to back three pointers to get the game to 31-25. Jones immediately responded for the Salukis with two layups of his own to get the lead back to ten. Givance then scored again to get the game to 35-27 not even three minutes into the second half.

Evansville added four more points quickly to get the lead back down to 35-31. The teams continued to go back and forth all second half and with 7:30 left in the game the Salukis led 46-40. The Salukis were able to add to the lead with a jumper from Domask and four quick free throws from Jones to get a 12 point lead with six minutes remaining. 

With under a minute left the Aces got the lead down to five at 59-54 but the Salukis shot their free throws well at the end of the game with three from senior forward Anthony D’Avanzo and one from Domask late to ice the game at 63-57. 

The Salukis next game is Monday Dec. 28 against Evansville again for the second half of the back to back with the Aces at 5 p.m.

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