Daily Egyptian

Salukis’ season ends as Shockers advance

By Tyler Davis, @TDavis_DE

SIU men’s basketball came out hot against Wichita State but was cooled by a flurry of turnovers leading to its season-ending 56-45 loss.

The Salukis’ Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinal matchup at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis started well for SIU. The Salukis led 15-11 at one point but from there it was all Shockers, as they went on 19-5 run to end the half.

WSU used a full court press which led to a five-minute stretch where SIU turned the ball over five times.

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Shocker coach Gregg Marshall said his team presses often and he noticed SIU’s lack of consistent ball handlers, which spurred his decision to increase the pressure.

He also commended SIU coach Barry Hinson for his game plan. He said the Salukis did a good job of involving junior guard Anthony Beane and working the shot clock.

“We’re just happy to move on,” Marshall said. “What impressed me the most, was our defense. We forced 18 turnovers to 5 assists.”

The 18 turnovers for the Salukis was the most in a game since they had 17 against the Evansville Aces on Feb. 14.

The Shockers moved to 8-3 in the MVC tournament as a top seed.

After the game, Saluki coach Barry Hinson said his team’s game plan worked well at points and he was encouraged by his team’s effort. He said his staff will get a point guard to handle the ball against full-court presses like the one his team saw Friday.

He also complimented the Shockers’ crowd support. Gold and black clad fans greatly outnumbered Saluki maroon, and players from both teams cited the crowd noise as a positive factor for WSU.

“I have nothing but admiration for the [WSU] program and the community because they support basketball,” Hinson said. “It’s the sport in Kansas.”

Shockers’ junior guard Fred VanVleet led all scorers with 13 points. The All-MVC first teamer added 4 assists and 3 rebounds. Salukis’ junior guard Jalen Pendleton led his team with 12 points and 6 rebounds.

The loss ended the Salukis’ season but Beane said he is excited about their future. Pendleton agreed.

“Guys like Jordan Caroline and Deion Lavender can really play basketball,” Pendleton said. “With all of us coming back next year, we can make a big run.”

But there will have to be some improvements to make that run though.

Beane said the team can improve its focus for next season. Hinson preached maturation of the young team, which had seven underclassmen who played significant minutes.

SIU’s lone senior, guard Dawson Verhines, pulled down 2 rebounds in his final game as a Saluki.

SIU trimmed the deficit to single digits throughout the second half but an alley-oop pass from the three-point line by VanVleet to freshman forward Zach Brown pushed the Shockers’ lead to 15. The Dawgs could not recover.

“We were just trying to close the game,” VanVleet said. “It was just me and Zach down there but I didn’t see it as a dagger. There was still five minutes left and I knew those guys weren’t going to quit.”

It was an 8-point lead for the Shockers going into the half. The lead changed seven times in the first half, but the Dawgs never regained the lead in the second.

Cotton led all first half scorers with 9 points while Beane led the Salukis with 8 points. The Dawgs ended the half with 6 turnovers in the last 12 minutes.

Both teams shot worse than 40 percent from the field and free throws were heavily in the Shockers’ favor: they had 12 attempts to just two for the Salukis.

Wichita State plays the winner of the Illinois State/Evansville game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Scottrade Center. 

Tyler Davis can be reached at [email protected]

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