SIU loses first road game of season to Northern Iowa

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

The Salukis had a difficult time stopping UNI sophomore forward Bennett Koch as SIU continued its winless streak at the McLeod Center, losing to the Panthers 67-58.

The loss is SIU’s (18-5, 7-3 Missouri Valley Conference) first road loss on the season, snapping what was the longest road winning streak in the country. The Dawgs are now 8-1 on the road.

Northern Iowa (12-11, 3-6 MVC) has now won 13 straight games against the Salukis in Cedar Falls, and is still undefeated against SIU in the McLeod Center at 12-0.

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Koch had career highs in both points and rebounds, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 boards. It was his first career double-double.

Senior guard Wes Washpun added 16 points for the Panthers.

SIU shot 39 percent from the field, its second-lowest total on the season. Only the Jan. 9 loss to Wichita State (37 percent) was worse.

The Dawgs also had issues at the free-throw stripe, shooting 6-13. It was also the second-worst performance on the season, only better than the Jan. 2 win against the Panthers.

After getting through the first half relatively unscathed by fouls, Saluki centers Bola Olaniyan fouled out with 11:51 left and Ibby Djimde fouled out four minutes later.

This left SIU with senior center Deng Leek as the only center eligible. He came into the game only averaging 3.2 minutes per game and played the last six minutes.

Both teams struggled from 3-point range as SIU shot 22 percent (4-18) and UNI shot 16 percent (3-19) from long distance.

SIU held the lead for the majority of the first half, but a 14-6 UNI run to close the half tied the game at 29.

After Olaniyan’s disqualification, which got UNI into the bonus, the Panthers took to the free-throw line to spark a 16-7 run, which gave them a 12-point lead.

The lead would not drop below seven points for the rest of the game.

Senior guard Anthony Beane’s 16 points, junior forward Sean O’Brien’s 14 and junior guard Tyler Smithpeters’ 8 accounted for all but 20 of the Salukis’ points in the game. The rest of the team shot 30 percent from the field (8-27).

Starting point guard Mike Rodriguez scored only two points, down from his 9.4 per game average.

Sixth man Leo Vincent shot 1-7 from the field and 0-5 from 3-point range. Both are season-worst performances. He also shot 1-3 from the charity stripe, a surprising performance for someone who went into the game making 25 consecutive free throws.

Coupled with Evansville’s loss to Wichita State, the Dawgs remain tied for second in the MVC at 7-3.

The Salukis continue their two-game road trip on Wednesday at Wichita State.

This story will be updated.

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