Daily Egyptian

Strong second half carries Salukis to win over Missouri State

Saluki guard Mike Rodriguez dribbles toward the basket during SIU’s 78-68 victory against Missouri State on Feb. 27, 2016, at SIU Arena. (Jacob Wiegand | @JacobWiegand_DE)

Saluki guard Mike Rodriguez dribbles toward the basket during SIU’s 78-68 victory against Missouri State on Feb. 27, 2016, at SIU Arena. (Jacob Wiegand | @JacobWiegand_DE)

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

It was a tale of two halves for SIU men’s basketball Saturday.

The Salukis (22-9, 11-6 Missouri Valley Conference) overcame a seven-point deficit with 10 minutes to go en route to a 78-68 win against Missouri State (12-18, 8-10 MVC) on Senior Night.

“Tonight was a huge night for this program,” coach Barry Hinson said. “I think I can say that this program has turned the corner. I think I can say that because we played the last part of the game without our best player on the floor and you guys saw next year’s product.”

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MORE: Photos from SIU-MSU | What we learned from SIU’s win against Missouri State

Senior guard Anthony Beane did not play the final 12 minutes of the contest after hitting his head on the floor on a defensive play. He was not on the bench for a majority of that time but did come back out to the bench for the final minutes.

Hinson would not report on Beane’s status after the game but said he would go through concussion protocol.

He did say that he thought the ball moved better after Beane left the game.

“I think when we give the ball to Anthony, we stand,” Hinson said. “I don’t think we cut and move a lot. But, at the time he went out he also had 19 points.”

His 19 points tied him for the all-time SIU Arena scoring record held by Mike Glenn with 885 career points.

SIU tallied six of its 15 assists after Beane left the game.

After shooting 25 percent in the first half, the Dawgs shot 60 percent in the second, scoring 48 points.

The comeback was sparked by a four-minute 18-2 SIU run that Hinson admitted he didn’t expect.

“If I had told you at the 10-minute mark that we would win by 10, you guys would have probably drug tested me,” he said. “I would’ve drug tested myself.”

MSU coach and former Saluki basketball player, Paul Lusk said his team’s inability to hit free throws down the stretch allowed SIU to come back.

“I thought we shot ourselves in the foot,” he said. “They outrebounded us and we had turnovers … we had the game in position and we simply just left too many at the free-throw line.”

MSU shot 59.4 percent (19-32) in the game from the free-throw stripe.

The Salukis didn’t shoot much better at 67.6 percent, but shot a higher volume. SIU shot 37 free throws Saturday, the most in a game this season, and made 25 of them.

Junior guard Leo Vincent contributed off the bench with 17 points, his most since Jan. 20 against Indiana State.

He said it was great to break out of his recent scoring slump.

“Personally, it was a little weight off my shoulders,” he said. “It was a good game on my part.”

Junior center Bola Olaniyan totaled 13 points and 13 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season.

“How spoiled are we that Bola got a double-double and we’re thinking that more should be done?” he said. “Golly, he can rebound that basketball. And he’s starting to score when he gets confident.”

With the win, SIU finishes tied for fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference with Northern Iowa. The tie will be broken by overall RPI ranking Sunday morning.

SIU went into the game ranked No. 129 while UNI entered today ranked No. 111.

Regardless of the tiebreaker, the Salukis will face the Panthers in the MVC quarterfinals at 2:30 Friday in the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

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

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