What a week for Warren

By Gus Bode

Big first half run propels Salukis to win over Bradley

Daniel Ruffin was feeling good Wednesday. And he let the Salukis know about it.

After hitting a three pointer early in the first half, he turned to the SIU bench with some words, and it’s safe to say the Bradley guard wasn’t exchanging pleasantries.

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But he might want to refrain from poking his chest out too early in the future.

Ruffin’s taunt was immediately followed by a 22-2 SIU run that offset the Salukis’ slow start and led to a 67-59 victory.

“That’s a good basketball team,” Bradley head coach Jim Les said. “You’re not going to keep them down for 40 minutes.”

A lack of energy, ill-advised shots and missed bunnies kept SIU playing from behind early in the first half. But as has often been the case this season, SIU regrouped and went into the locker room with a 33-24 halftime lead.

SIU (15-3, 6-0) went up by as much as 14 points in the second half, but saw that lead dwindle down to just five midway through the half.

Marcellus Sommerville, who came into the ballgame as the Missouri Valley Conference’s scoring leader, scored 11 of his team-high 16 points in the second half.

“That guy is very good, and to hold him under 20, and to hold him to four in the first half, I think is really good,” SIU head coach Chris Lowery said.

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Sommerville began to exert himself more on the offensive end after a slow start, creating off the dribble for his teammates and sinking mid to long-range shots of his own.

A Tony Bennett jumper brought the Braves to within two, 55-53, but that would be as close as they would get.

Clutch rebounds from Josh Warren and timely steals from Tony Young offset horrible shooting for SIU, as Darren Brooks and Jamal Tatum combined to shoot 4-of-24 from the field.

Perhaps fueled by his game-winning shot Saturday, Warren played more aggressive on the offensive end and on the defensive glass.

Warren finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds, both career highs, using his big frame to bang around the skinnier 7-foot Patrick O’Bryant.

“Josh played good,” Young said. “I didn’t know he had 18 and 13, but I’m proud of him.”

Young dropped a season-high 15 points and finished off one of his four steals with a two-handed jam putting SIU up by eight with 26 seconds left.

Free throws from Brooks, who finished with seven rebounds and seven assists, and Stetson Hairston squashed the hopes of any Bradley late-game heroics and secured the Salukis’ fourth straight victory.

“Hopefully I can keep it going and the team can keep it going too,” Warren said.

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