Salukis cannot capitalize on big game

By Aaron Graff, @Aarongraff_DE

SIU men’s basketball must have forgotten there are two halves in every game.

After leading by 3 points at halftime, the Salukis (9-13, 2-7) lost 59-52 to the No. 18 Northern Iowa Panthers (19-2, 8-1) Wednesday at SIU Arena.

UNI defeated SIU 55-39 Jan. 7, and swept the regular season series.

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The Panthers got off to a quick 13-5 lead, but the Salukis went on an 8-0 run to tie it. SIU kept the run going and took an 18-14 lead after 5 straight points by freshman guard Deion Lavender.

Junior center Ibby Djimde hit a hook shot right at the buzzer to top off the half.

“This is the Ibby that we thought could help us all along,” coach Barry Hinson said. “He hadn’t shown us.”

The second half was a different story.

UNI first tied it 28-28, and went on a 23-7 run, which killed the crowd noise and had Saluki fans filing out sporadically.

“I told the guys at halftime get that foot down and get it set,” UNI coach Ben Jacobson said. “Let it fly a little bit.”

Hinson said the Salukis were out of the game at that point. He said what bothered him most was the transition from offense to defense.

SIU made a last minute effort to make it a three-possession game, but it was too little too late.

UNI senior forward Seth Tuttle led the Panthers with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Junior guard Paul Jesperson also recorded 13 points.

“We said we were going to make Tuttle beat us,” Hinson said. “He had a double-double tonight but he really had to work hard.”

Djimde led the Salukis with his season-high 10 points. Lavender did not score in the second half and finished with 8 points.

The Salukis play the Missouri State Bears at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at JQH Arena in Springfield, Mo.

Aaron Graff can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 256

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