Salukis stay alive in St. Louis

Salukis stay alive in St. Louis

By Tyler Davis, @TDavis_DE

SIU men’s basketball got its biggest win of the season at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis in a contest only a mother could love.

In Thursday’s Missouri Valley Conference tournament opener, the ninth-seeded Salukis outlasted the eighth-seeded Missouri State Bears, 55-48. 

Missouri State coach Paul Lusk called the game ugly as both teams shot worse than 38 percent from the field and combined for 22 turnovers.


The Dawgs move on to face the top-seed, No. 8 Wichita State Shockers and the Bears’ season is over.

The win was the Salukis’ second in their last seven games. Junior guard Anthony Beane, who was named to the all-conference second team, had 10 points and 6 rebounds. 

Bears’ sophomore guard Austin Ruder led all players with 17 points.  

Saluki coach Barry Hinson said the contest was odd for most play-in games because both teams played with a lot of intensity.

“I felt like the team that had the most enthusiasm would have an opportunity to win this game,” Hinson said. “You saw two teams that really played with a lot of enthusiasm and effort.”

Hinson complimented his former team for the fight it displayed. He said he still follows the university that fired him in 2008 and although it had a tough year, he believes in Lusk and the Bears’ program.

Hinson said his team is honored to play Wichita State tomorrow but it will need to play nearly perfect to win. SIU has not beat WSU in more than two years.


“[Last game versus WSU] was close because [WSU coach] Gregg [Marshall] allowed it to be close because he subbed a lot,” Hinson said.  “We’re playing the hottest team in the country right now.”

Lusk congratulated SIU and said his team’s turnovers played a big role in the loss.

“We just gave them the ball too many times,” Lusk said. “And they usually went for [points] on the other end.”

The Bears’ lone senior, forward Christian Kirk scored 6 points in the first half but was held to 2 points in the second half. He said SIU’s defense played a role in him not taking one shot during the final 20 minutes.

“They probably keyed in on me in the second half,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of openings in the second half that I did in the first.”

Lusk said Kirk, who had a career-high 11 rebounds, is a model for other student athletes.

One of the Bears’ leading scorers, junior guard Dorrian Williams, went 1-of-7 in the game, as the Bears’ struggled to consistently score. Lusk said Williams played hard but the grind of the season may have caught up to him.

He said his young team needs to make drastic offseason improvements across the board.

“The season has not been easy but guys stayed positive,” Lusk said. “Hopefully with all the minutes these guys got they can get better because we need to get better.”

He said players played a lot of minutes because his team, at some points in the season, had just seven players to dress.

The Bears trimmed the Salukis’ double-digit lead to four before freshman guard Deion Lavender hit four free throws to seal the deal.

Pendleton said he did not doubt Lavender.

“I knew Deion was going to make them,” Pendleton said. “I have confidence in all my teammates.”

Lavender led the team with 12 points and added 5 rebounds.

During the second half, Pendleton scored 5 straight points while Missouri State was charging.

“Coach told me all along that my energy is what got my guys going,” Pendleton said. “We kind of got a little slump for a little minute but I got those couple steals, and I think it helped a lot.”

SIU went into the half leading 25-19, even though it shot just 31 percent from the field. Missouri State shot 40 percent but was hampered by 8 turnovers.  The 19 points allowed in the first half was a season low for the Salukis.

Both teams struggled from three-point range as well, going a combined 1-13 from deep in the half.

Lavender led all scorers with 8 points and added 4 rebounds. Christian Kirk led his squad with 6 points and 3 assists.

The Bears shared the ball well, getting 8 assists on 9 field goals while the Salukis were credited with 2 assists.

SIU plays Wichita State at noon Friday at the Scottrade Center. The Salukis lost both matchups with the Shockers in the regular season.

Tyler Davis be reached at [email protected]