Postseason hopes unsure after UNI ends SIU’s Arch Madness

Anthony Beane attempts a shot during the Salukis’ 66-60 loss to Northern Iowa on Friday during the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Louis. ( file photo)

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

If the Saluki basketball season is to continue, it’ll require a berth in a postseason tournament. That is, unless the university loses money on the game.

Northern Iowa used a strong second-half shooting performance to down the Salukis in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament quarterfinals, 66-60.

“I’ve walked off this floor 13 times in my career, and sometimes you walk off the floor, and you’re disgusted how you play or this or that,” Saluki coach Barry Hinson said. “I just told a group of 12 individuals in the locker room that I couldn’t be any prouder of them.”


SIU never led in the game, but tied it with 2:16 left on an and-one from freshman guard Armon Fletcher after being down by as much as 10 in the second half. 

“Armon capitalized on that and-one,” junior forward Sean O’Brien said. “We just knew we had to get a couple stops at the end there and couldn’t get them.”

Four straight free throws by UNI gave the team a lead that would stand the rest of the game.

MORE: Photos from SIU-UNI | Takeaways from UNI-SIU

Fletcher finished with 11 points and five rebounds. He said after the game that his performance was one he can carry into next season.

“It’s a confidence booster knowing I can play with the guys in this conference,” he said. “I just credit my teammates and coaches for the confidence to go out there.”

As for the future of the season, it is uncertain if the Dawgs will accept a pay-to-play tournament bid due to Illinois’ budget impasse.


The College Basketball Invitational and Tournament both require teams to pay a fee to compete.

“We will not pay to play to compete in a postseason tournament when people are getting ready to losing their jobs,” he said.

Hinson said the school will only participate if a profit can be made, unless university administrators OK entry.

In the game on the floor, UNI shot 50 percent and 15-18 from the free-throw line in the second half to carry the Panthers to victory, including four free throws by junior guard Jeremy Morgan.

“[Free throws are] just a key part of the game,” he said. “I missed other ones earlier in the game. I kept telling myself, just shoot it like you’ve been practicing all season. So I just told myself to relax and knock them in.”

Offensively, the Panthers were led by Morgan’s 18 points and four rebounds. 

Senior guard Wes Washpun and Bennett Koch each had 11 points. Washpun was forced to sit for a three-minute period in the second half with four fouls, but said he stayed aggressive in the game.

“I think it was just the circumstances of the game,” he said. “It was win or go home. I had to keep my aggression up for the sake of the team.”

Despite his starters’ strong efforts, UNI coach Ben Jacobson said his team’s bench players were the difference in the victory. Sophomore guard Wyatt Lohaus had nine points, and sophomore forward Klint Carlson added eight. 

“Wyatt and Clint were really good tonight,” Jacobson said. “Our bench has been good for five weeks, and they were really good again today.”

Poor shooting and turnovers once again plagued the Dawgs as SIU went 13-32 from the floor in the second half and committed 18 turnovers overall.

“We just shot ourselves in the foot too many times,” junior forward Sean O’Brien said. “You can’t turn the ball over 18 times and beat a good team.”

O’Brien had a double-double with 12 points and team-high 12 rebounds.

SIU was led by senior guard Anthony Beane with 17 points in his final Arch Madness contest. He said he reminisced on his career as the clock struck zeroes.

“Just everything that we’ve been through as a team and how this team stuck together, through the good times, through the bad times,” he said. “We were all positive for each other and we were all there for each other. Not much we can do.”

Sean Carley can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3307