Daily Egyptian

Salukis can’t complete comeback, lose to Sam Houston State

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SIU junior guard Jonathan Wiley and Bearkat senior forward/center Aurimas Majauskas reach to rebound a missed shot during the Salukis' 79-73 fall to Sam Houston State on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, at SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

SIU junior guard Jonathan Wiley and Bearkat senior forward/center Aurimas Majauskas reach to rebound a missed shot during the Salukis' 79-73 fall to Sam Houston State on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, at SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

SIU junior guard Jonathan Wiley and Bearkat senior forward/center Aurimas Majauskas reach to rebound a missed shot during the Salukis' 79-73 fall to Sam Houston State on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, at SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

By Jonathan Thompson

SIU men’s basketball fell behind early against Sam Houston State on Saturday and was never able to over take them, losing 79-73.

The lead changed hands seven times in the first six minutes, but the Salukis never had the lead again in the game.

“This is the most disappointed I’ve been in a long time with a basketball team,” SIU coach Barry Hinson said. “I’m really disappointed with our effort and energy today. I thought we disrespected their program in a tremendous way. I thought we disrespected our fans in a tremendous way. We did not give our best effort.”

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SIU coach Barry Hinson calls a play during the Salukis’ 79-73 fall to Sam Houston State on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, at SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

The game had the makings of a boxing match. Every time the Salukis would go on a run, SHSU countered with multiple runs of their own.

Sam Houston State came out of the gates with a physical full-court press that forced nine Saluki turnovers in the first half. SHSU would continue its aggressive style of play, forcing 17 turnovers in the game and scoring 17 points off turnovers.

The Bearkats also took care of the ball well themselves, having only seven turnovers in the entire game.

Bearkat sophomore guard/forward Albert Almanza (0) and senior forward Torry Butler (24) reach to recover a loose ball during the Salukis' 79-73 fall to Sam Houston State on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, at SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

Junior forward Chris Galbreath Jr. gave the Bearkats a big advantage coming off the bench by scoring a career-high 26 points, and grabbing four rebounds and two blocks.

Sam Houston State’s interior presence dominated the Salukis all night as senior center Aurimas Majauskas and senior forward Torry Butler added 17 points each in addition to Galbreath’s outing.

Hinson was not happy with his seniors’ performance in the game. The trio of Sean O’Brien, Mike Rodriguez and Leo Vincent combined to shoot 30 percent and had nine turnovers.

“I think our three seniors have to take stock in this program,” Hinson said. “They have to be at a point that they can communicate to the rest of these guys what it takes to win a game.”

As a result, Hinson said he will likely switch the starting lineup for the game at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Saint Louis.

Runs of nine and 10 points unanswered helped the Bearkats eventually extend their lead to 16 early in the first half.

SIU would show signs of life in the second half, cutting the lead to just four points in the final four minutes.

The Salukis were able to stay close to SHSU thanks to some big contributions off the bench. Sean Lloyd, Jonathan Wiley and Aaron Cook combined for 21 points.

Senior guard Mike Rodriguez reacts to a referee’s call during the Salukis’ 79-73 fall to Sam Houston State on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, at SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

Sam Houston State quickly responded to SIU’s runs and would go back up by nine points with less than two minutes to play.

“I put one of our players in today and he just put his head down like he didn’t want to go in the game,” Hinson said. “That’s when I knew.”

SIU has now lost two in a row and Hinson said the team is lacking confidence in itself.

“We have no confidence right now,” he said. “On Wednesday night we may not win, but we are going to play hard. I can promise you that.”

Staff writer Jonathan Thompson can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @TheReal_Jt3.

To stay up to date with all your SIU basketball news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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