Rough first half downs Salukis against Illinois State

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

SIU gave Illinois State an easy evening on Redbird senior night.

The Salukis tied the sixth-worst first-half scoring output in program history and couldn’t recover, falling 73-50.

With the loss, SIU can no longer finish better than fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference.


SIU (21-9, 10-7 MVC) scored 15 points in the first period, shooting 20 percent from the field (5-25). Illinois State (18-12, 12-5 MVC) took advantage of the Salukis’ woes, running up a 21-point halftime lead.

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Senior guard Anthony Beane struggled from the field again in Normal, with just two points. It was his third time in four contests in his hometown in which he scored 10 or fewer points. Wednesday was his fifth game of the season where he failed to score double figures.

The starting five scored 26 points, including zero from junior guard Tyler Smithpeters, who has had fewer than 10 points in nine of his last 10 games. Meanwhile, Redbird starters scored 57 points in the contest.

Redbird sophomore guard Paris Lee tied the entire Saluki team by himself in the first half. He finished with a game-high 21 points.

His teammates, senior forwards DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell and Deontae Hawkins, also scored in double-figures, dropping 16 and 15 points. Each also grabbed seven rebounds.

The Dawgs were unable to get the ball inside to junior big men Sean O’Brien and Bola Olaniyan, forcing the Salukis to shoot quick, outside shots — something coach Barry Hinson had said could not be done if SIU wanted to win.


Two of the Salukis’ 18 3-point attempts went in, the second-worst rate in a game this season.

On Tuesday, Hinson noted how in his team’s losses, junior guards Leo Vincent and Tyler Smithpeters had not shot well (24.4 percent). That trend continued Wednesday as the two shot a combined 1-11 from the floor and 0-7 from long distance.

Hinson tweaked his starting lineup for the second half, adding Vincent and freshman guard Armon Fletcher in place of Smithpeters and junior guard Mike Rodriguez.

Fletcher was one of the few bright spots for the Salukis, matching his career-highs with 13 points and seven rebounds.

Freshman forward Rudy Stradnieks also recorded a career-high seven points, coming off the bench at the end of the game.

The Dawgs turned around their shooting in the second half, shooting 41.4 percent but still allowed Illinois State to shoot 48 percent.

SIU will be back in Carbondale at 7 p.m. Saturday to face Missouri State on senior night.

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