SIU handed crushing loss at home from Bradley 50-48

Saluki men’s basketball (20-9, 11-6) couldn’t get past the Bradley Braves (21-8, 14-4) on Sunday afternoon.

As expected, it was a low-scoring affair between two of the top defensive teams in the Missouri Valley Conference. SIU once again showed off their #1 scoring defense in the MVC while continuing to struggle on the offensive side of the basketball. A close game throughout with both teams giving exemplary effort.

“Proud of our team’s effort…I thought it was a high-level college basketball game, both teams played extremely hard,” head coach Bryan Mullins said.


“We work on defense every day, coach did a great job preparing us to scout them,” forward JD Muila said.

SIU and Bradley entered the matchup with equal records of 20-8 creating a significant game in the conference with only 2 games left for the Salukis. With fans piling into the Banterra Center and Southern hosting its annual black out cancer game, it created an electric atmosphere for a tight game throughout.

“It was a great atmosphere, I appreciate the community for coming out, supporting us…” Mullins said.

“(I’ll) always be thankful for the atmosphere that we have here at home, the fans, the crowd…it gives me a boost of energy to keep going…” Muila said.

Only averaging 66.4 points per game this season, a gameplan for Southern is to not play from behind. Unfortunately, this plan wasn’t executed as the Braves went on a 9-0 run in the early portion of the game after the Salukis scored a layup to open the scoring. This proved to be a theme of this contest as Bradley led for the majority of the time with SIU hanging tight.

Out of a timeout, Marcus Domask got the Salukis back into the game by knocking down three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to cut the lead to 9-8. It was the beginning of a great game for the Salukis’ leading scorer who finished with 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. It contributed to a 10-2 run by Southern to regain the lead 12-11. Domask scored 10 of the Salukis’ first 12 points, after struggling in the team’s previous match against the Braves where he only mustered 5 points on 1-for-5 from the field.

SIU held close with Bradley, with the teams both getting stops and matching buckets together in the latter part of the first half. When Bradley seemed to create some separation, Southern answered back quickly, notably by Jawaun Newton who put together a quick six point stretch late in the period.


It summed to a 26-24 lead at halftime where both teams struggled from three-point range. The Salukis only shot 3-for-13 (23%) from long distance while the Braves only managed a 2-for-7 (28%) clip from deep. This trend continued in the second half with both teams finishing the game 4-for-18 (22%) and 5-for-21 (23%) from behind the arc, respectively.

Another factor in SIU’s rough offensive performance is that their second-leading scorer Lance Jones struggled mightily. He only shot 6 times, all three-pointers, but didn’t connect on a single one, leading to less time on the court in the pivotal minutes of the second half.

“He (Jones) was getting frustrated…he’s gonna bounce back and respond…” Mullins said.

It was a coaching decision to bench the Southern guard and find a lineup and rotation that worked, especially during the final 10 minutes or so.

A lineup that included Marcus Domask proved to have the most success for the Salukis as he knocked down 3 of 5 three-point attempts along with several of his patented mid-range jumpers. It was best to get the hot hand the ball when given the chance, as there weren’t many second-chance points or fast break opportunities in this game.

In fact, the one and only bucket on a break was on a dunk from Southern’s Aaron Banks that broke another scoreless stretch from both sides. The flush cut the Saluki deficit to 1 with the Braves up 36-35. The two squads went back and forth as Domask continued to respond with a jumper from mid-range and a three in the corner which knotted the score at 40.

But he couldn’t build too much off it, as the Braves’ Zek Montgomery and Malevy Leons blocked 2 of Domask’s shots, a tangible representation of the length advantage Bradley had over the Salukis. Ja’Shon Henry scored 12 critical points while reeling in 5 boards for the Braves, with many coming in the paint.

“They’re long…I think they’re a really good defensive team,” Mullins said.

“It was a little tough for us to score over them just because they have that length,” Muila echoed.

Referees began to blow their whistles more frequently as the game clock wound down, resulting in more free throws, especially for the Salukis. Domask knocked down both of his shots from the charity stripe with less than 2 minutes to go which was the largest lead Southern held.

But on the other, Montgomery made a tough circus shot while switching hands to even the score at 45. Clarence Rupert began to spark SIU down low, hitting a free throw and finishing a dunk off a pass from Domask. It occurred with 33 seconds to go and forced a Bradley timeout as the Salukis held onto a 48-46 lead.

But the lead didn’t last for long as Rienk Mast knocked down a three while getting fouled along with converting on his trip to the line. With 2 timeouts still in the chamber, the Salukis head coach elected not to use them in the two critical situations.

“I didn’t want to call a timeout (after the three) because we had plays…” Mullins said.

Their play found an open Jawaun Newton behind the arc whose shot rattled out. After an offensive rebound by Domask, Southern couldn’t manage to get a good shot up resulting in the Braves regaining possession after getting a defensive stop. SIU fouled Henry with 4 seconds remaining and down 50-48.

Although, the game was not yet over as Henry missed both of his free throw attempts. But once again, Mullins didn’t signal for a timeout, trusting in his team to get down the court and potentially tie or win the game.

“I thought we might have a better opportunity to be able to get downhill…looking back on it, probably could’ve called a timeout,” Mullins said.

After the missed free throw, the Salukis could only muster a half-court heave that was too strong as the Braves held on for the 50-48 victory, securing their fifth straight win on the road.

“The game doesn’t just (fall) on that last shot…it’s a forty-minute game. We definitely could’ve done different things…it is what it is,” Muila said.

The Salukis will remain at the Banterra Center for their next game against the Northern Iowa Panthers (13-15, 9-9) on Wednesday night.

Sports reporter Howard Woodard can be reached at [email protected]

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