Subash Kharel | @pics.leaks
The SIU Men’s Basketball team (6-4, 1-0 MVC) hosted the SEMO Redhawks Wednesday night. The Salukis improved to 6-4 on the season and 4-0 at the Banterra Center this year with their win tonight against close rival SEMO 80-55, while they scored their highest point total of the season.
The Salukis were highlighted tonight by four different double digit point scorers in junior guard Steven Verplancken, junior forward Marcus Domask, senior guard Ben Coupet, and sophomore center Kyler Filewich. Verplancken led the team with 17 points on the night, while Domask and Coupet weren’t far off with 16 and 15 and Filewich topped it off with another 12.
Domask helped the team out in a lot of other areas as well, by leading the team in steals (3), assists (8), rebounds (8), and minutes played (37). Verplancken was nearly perfect in shooting percentage on the night, hitting six of his seven shots on the night.
The game was important to Domask considering SEMO is one of SIU’s biggest and closest rivals.
“That’s just a team we never want to lose to. Before the game, coach talked about it and he said the message was “Saluki to Saluki” and basically that we never want to lose to them. They’re just too close to us. We want to take as much territory as we can,” Domask said.
A jumper by SEMO kicked things off for the first points of the day and they got to an early 6-2 lead against the Salukis, but SIU shook some of the rust off and went on a 12-3 run to earn a 14-9 lead early over the Redhawks. SEMO began to close the gap at 16-13, with SIU still leading, but a couple of dunks by Coupet started a run of eight straight points for the Salukis to take a 24-13 lead. SEMO closed the gap to end the first half, but SIU was still leading 29-23.
Domask said one point of emphasis heading into the locker room for the half was how many turnovers they had already had.
“Coach said we had 11 at the half and that was as many as what we had the last three games. Coach just emphasized taking care of the ball and going at our own pace. They liked to get up and down and run a lot but in the second half we started to learn a bit about it. We just wanted to play at our own pace,” Domask said.
The second half was where everything exploded for the Saluki offense, with 51 total points. It was close early again after a three pointer by SEMO started things off to make it a three point game, but SIU kept on the gas, earning a 13 point lead at 46-33 after a Dalton Banks three pointer. Stretch runs of 11-2 and 12-3 helped the Salukis finish it off confidently with the large point total that they earned and SIU earned the big home rivalry win.
Coach Mullins said the game plan against SEMO was no different even though they were up against their arch rivals.
“It’s similar to everything we do. It was the biggest game of the year because its the next game We had to make sure we come out with the right mindset and focus after a tough loss against Tulsa. I thought our guys did that. We had a little bit of a rough start, but for the most part the focus was there throughout the game,” Mullins said.
Mullins believes that even with the big win, there’s still a lot of work to do.
“It was a huge win, but we got to keep getting better as a team and keep growing. We’ve had multiple guys banged up and sick and everyone’s stepping up. People are feeling more comfortable, the new guys, J.D, Troy, and Kyler in the first half. It’s good to see them make plays and be aggressive,” Mullins said.
Domask said it was the ball movement that created the offensive surge in the second half for the Salukis.
“I thought our ball movement was better and with that we shot better and got better shots. Guys stepped up to hit more shots. We just shot the ball a lot better,” Domask said.
Filewich believed that the ball protection was significantly better in the second half and that’s what led to the offensive surge.
“We really took care of the ball better. That helps us a lot as an offense in all assets of the game. It helped us to get better shots and slowed them down a bit which helped our defense a bit too,” Filewich said.
Filewich also said the defense was also key to the big win tonight.
“We did a great job with the scouting the past few days and locked in on defense. We really put an emphasis on that to try and shut them down,” Filewich said.
SIU will continue their season with another home game this Saturday against the Maryville Saints with a 3 p.m tip-off time.
Sports reporter Joseph Bernard can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @Jojobernard2001.
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