SIU advances to 5-0 with win against Oakland

SIU advances to 5-0 with win against Oakland

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

Six players scored in double figures for the Salukis as they moved to 5-0 for the first time since 2003 in a 97-88 win against Oakland University on Tuesday.

The Salukis got off to a fast start converting two steals to five points, and after an Oakland basket, junior guard Leo Vincent hit another three-pointer to put SIU up 8-2 in the first two minutes. 

Vincent finished with 14 points on 5-8 shooting and 3-5 from three-point range.

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“God, did [Leo] give us a spark again,” coach Barry Hinson said. “He’s starting to get comfortable.”

The Golden Grizzlies clawed their way back to reduce SIU’s lead to one before junior guard Tyler Smithpeters hit a three to extend the lead back to four at 15-11 with 13 minutes left in the first half.

Both teams put on a three-point shooting contest in the first half, as Oakland shot 43 percent and SIU shot 53 percent from beyond the arc.

Oakland took their first lead of the game with 4:41 left in the first half at 31-30. The teams traded leads four times in the final five minutes of the half, with SIU leadingg 43-40 at halftime.

Junior forward Sean O’Brien broke out of his 0-6 first half slump, converting an and-one basket, lay-up and three-pointer to start a 10-2 SIU run to push the Saluki lead to 53-42 within the first two minutes of the second half. 

“I didn’t really say anything to him at halftime,” Hinson said. “I just told him I’m calling your number first play, and he scored and it was over.”

The referees found their whistles in the second half as Oakland entered the bonus with over 12 minutes left. 

Oakland had shot 90 percent from the free-throw line coming into the game, but only shot 77 percent against SIU going 21-27.

The Salukis earned their bonus three minutes later, but struggled with free throws going 13-23 after earning the bonus. 

Fouls became an issue for the Golden Grizzlies in a hurry as 6-foot-9, 271 pound senior center Percy Gibson picked up his fourth foul with 7:50 left in the second half as junior guard Mike Rodriguez converted an and-one to put the Salukis up 77-61. Gibson had 11 points and 7 rebounds at that point.

The latter part of the second half became a free-throw contest between the two teams. At the four minute mark both teams had field goal droughts, as Oakland had a 1-8 streak while Southern had a 1-5 streak.

Senior guard Anthony Beane got 17 of his game-high 30 points in the second half on 11-13 shooting and going 5-6 from the free-throw line.

“He’s taking better shots, he’s got better teammates around him,” Hinson said. “I’m really proud of Anthony. He’s growing up in front of our eyes.”

Around the two-minute mark, Oakland began intentionally fouling the Salukis seeing their struggles at the line. But the Golden Grizzlies offense didn’t do their part to cut the gap, as the Salukis hit enough free-throws to close the game out with a 97-88 final score.

The Salukis will play at 2:30 p.m. Friday against Texas-El Paso, and at 6:30 p.m. Saturday against either Portland or Colorado State as part of the Corpus Christi Coastal Challenge.

Sean Carley can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @SCarleyDE

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