Salukis stunned by sharp-shooting Sycamores

By Gus Bode

Anthony Booker’s career-best performance was not enough to save the SIU men’s basketball team from its third straight loss Wednesday in the SIU Arena.

The freshman forward notched his first career double-double as he scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, both career highs, during the team’s 78-72 loss against Indiana State.

The loss assures SIU (11-16, 6-10 Missouri Valley Conference) its first sub-.500 record in conference play for the first time since 1998, when the Salukis finished 8-10 in conference play.


SIU shot 27-for-52 from the field as its offense broke out of a two-game funk in which it scored 55 and 56 points respectively. Freshmen guards Ryan Hare and Kevin Dillard scored 16 and 15 points, respectively, and sophomore forward Carlton Fay chipped in with 11.

But the performances were not enough for a Saluki win.

Indiana State (8-19, 6-10 MVC) shot 25-for-50 from the field, and its 3-point efficiency was the difference in the game. The Sycamores shot 11-for-21 from the 3-point line, making five more shots from beyond the arc than SIU.

Senior forward Jay Tunnell led Indiana State with 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting and 4-for-7 from the 3-point line. Tunnell benefited from the penetration of guard Harry Marshall, who scored 14 points and dished six assists.

SIU head coach Chris Lowery said the team’s struggles on defense cost the Salukis a chance at victory.

‘We got everything we wanted offensively. I thought Book was great inside. Kevin (Dillard) was good. We just didn’t guard, and that was a defensive game,’ Lowery said. ‘We did all the glamour stuff that you need to win, except we didn’t guard them.’

Indiana State held a 42-38 halftime lead against SIU as both team’s excelled on offense in the game’s opening period.


The Sycamores, who scored 47 points in their Jan. 21 home loss to SIU, shot 17-for-28 from the field and buried five of its 10 3-point field goals.

While the Salukis connected on 51.9 percent and 71.4 percent of their 3-point attempts (5-for-7), including Fay’s buzzer-beating bank shot. But it was not enough to keep pace with the streaking Sycamores who currently own a four-game winning streak.

SIU held an early eight-point lead with 10:45 remaining in the game, but Indiana State chipped away at its deficit and take a 27-24 lead after an 11-0 run. The team’s battled back-and-forth for the rest of the period which featured 11 lead changes before the Sycamores took a five-point lead into the locker room.

The visiting Sycamores went on a 16-5 run that started with 2 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the first half and ended at the 16:51 mark in the second half. The Sycamores’ ability to knock down perimeter jump shots helped them jump out to a 16-point lead with 13:54 left in the game.

Indiana State head coach Kevin McKenna said the Sycamores’ recent winning streak is a testament to the team’s growth since the first meeting between the two teams.

‘We were awful in that first game. We had a lot of turnovers and a lot of poor basketball plays, but we’re so much better of a team right now,’ McKenna said. ‘It’s a credit to our guys for sticking with it when things weren’t looking real good.’

Unlike its previous two losses against Northern Iowa and Creighton, Southern did not fold as it slowly cut into the Sycamores’ lead, cutting its deficit to four points with 20 seconds left. But a pair of free throws by guard Rashad Reed iced the win for Indiana State.

Booker was the Salukis’ main offensive contributor as he dominated the low-post with an array of moves that assisted in his break-out performance.

The highly-touted freshman accounted for 18 of the team’s 19 bench points as he single-handedly outscored Indiana State’s bench by eight points.

After losing back-to-back games by at least 20 points, Booker said the team felt it owed its fans a better performance.

‘We just really wanted to give the crowd something after coming off that bad first half against Creighton and going on the road trip and not being mentally prepared to play,’ Booker said. ‘Our fans deserve better and we want to give them better.’