Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

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Corey Crombar named Dawg Pound president 
By Carly Gist, Staff Reporter • April 15, 2024

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Horsin’ Around: Salukis beat the Racers in a photo finish

Jarrett+Hensley+%2832%29+claps+in+celebration+as+the+clock+runs+out+to+give+SIU+the+win+over+Murray+State+Feb.+21%2C+2024+at+Banterra+Center+in+Carbondale%2C+Illinois.
Lylee Gibbs | @lyleegibbsphoto
Jarrett Hensley (32) claps in celebration as the clock runs out to give SIU the win over Murray State Feb. 21, 2024 at Banterra Center in Carbondale, Illinois.

Jarrett Hensley and Kennard Davis Jr. played heroes on Wednesday night, as both had key blocks in the final minute of a 72-68 victory for Southern Illinois (18-10, 10-7) over Murray State (11-17, 8-9) at the Banterra Center.

Both Davis and Hensley also sank a pair of free throws each in the final 20 seconds, keeping the Saluki lead out of reach.

Scottie Ebube (2) holds up the SIU flag as he cheers with the Dawg Pound moments after a win over Murray State Feb. 21, 2024 at Banterra Center in Carbondale, Illinois. (Lylee Gibbs | @lyleegibbsphoto)

With SIU’s starting center Clarence Rupert out with an illness, Scottie Ebube registered his first career start, along with an elevated role for Hensley as the big man in the rotation.

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Additionally, Southern’s top player Xavier Johnson fell short of his usual output with only seven points, the first time he didn’t reach double-digits this season.

Instead, it was Troy D’Amico leading the charge with 20 points on 50% shooting from both inside and outside the arc. Hensley joined him in double figures with 15, followed by Trent Brown with 11.

“To be able to find a way to win when things weren’t going our way sometimes, to be able to respond,” Saluki head coach Bryan Mullins said. “Especially without Clarence [and] being a man down, just proud of this group.”

The Salukis played a great first half, taking the lead in the first three minutes and keeping it the rest of the half. D’Amico shot 6-for-8, while AJ Ferguson and Trent Brown grabbed a handful of rebounds each to help build a 12-point halftime lead at 41-29.

“Different guys are stepping up on different nights, and that’s what you need in the Valley in terms of the grind of the season,” Mullins said. “For Jarrett to play the role he did, even Scottie playing that many minutes… it’s been huge for us.”

The Racers came back with more momentum in the second half, starting it out with a 7-0 run in the first few minutes to narrow the lead. Murray State took the lead with eight minutes left, and the teams traded it back and forth before tying it up at 66.

Jarrett Hensley (32) yells after coming down off a dunk as the Salukis face the Racers of Murray State Feb. 21, 2024 at Banterra Center in Carbondale, Illinois. (Lylee Gibbs | @lyleegibbsphoto)

Hensley’s last-minute block, followed by a putback basket on the other end, gave SIU a lead it wouldn’t relinquish, as the Salukis beat the Racers for the fifth time in a row.

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“It’s my mentality to go out there and whenever my number is called, to believe in myself,” Hensley said about his performance tonight. “Thinking about the play and whatever I have to do to get a stop, and it worked out good.”

D’Amico’s game-high 20 points was kicked off by a pair of threes within the first few minutes. Those shots gave him the confidence he needed to have a good night when the rest of his team needed it.

“I feel like I have been playing a little bit better lately,” D’Amico said. “Just trying to keep that momentum up [and] credit to my teammates for moving the ball, playing hard… and just a great team win.”

Southern now holds sole possession of the fourth seed in the Missouri Valley Conference with three games to go. The Salukis entered Wednesday in a three-way tie with Northern Iowa and Belmont, but both teams lost while the Salukis won. They are one game back of the third seed Bradley, which they will play next Wednesday.

SIU will look to continue its winning streak on the road, taking on the Evansville Purple Aces at the Ford Center on Sunday, Feb. 25 at 1 p.m.

To stay up to date on all your southern Illinois news, be sure to follow The Daily Egyptian on Facebook and @dailyegyptian on X [formerly known as Twitter].

Jamilah Lewis can be reached at [email protected]. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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