Salukis fall apart in second half, lose to Illinois State


Saluki senior forward Sean O’Brien passes the ball by Illinois State senior guard Tony Wills during SIU’s 60-53 loss to the Redbirds on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, at SIU Arena. O’Brien scored a team-high 15 points in the game. (Jacob Wiegand | @jawiegandphoto)

By Jonathan Thompson

SIU men’s basketball blew a halftime lead before falling to Illinois state 53-60 on Wednesday at SIU Arena.

The Salukis went into the second half with a 33-29 lead over the Redbirds built off of a solid start of the game.

SIU had impressive shooting numbers in the opening half, making 52.2 percent of its field goals, 42.9 percent of its 3-points and all six free throw attempts.


The 3-pointers and free throws would be the edge the Dawgs needed to get an early lead. ISU matched them in field goal percentage at 52.2 percent but struggled from deep, making only 2-8 and 50 percent of its foul shots.

Sophomore guard Armon Fletcher returned from a foot sprain to start for SIU after sitting out two games against Drake and Missouri State.

He scored a 3-pointer for the first basket of the game, and had 10 of his 12 points in the first half.

Senior forward Sean O’Brien also made his presence known in the opening half with 11 of his 15 point on 5-5 shooting.

The second half looked totally different across the board for SIU’s shooting. The Salukis couldn’t buy a bucket, making only 5-27 of their field goal attempts and 22.2 percent of their 3-pointers.

With 15:33 left in the game, ISU senior guard Paris Lee hit a 3-pointer to give the RedBirds a 36-35 advantage — their first of the game.

Senior guard Leo Vincent would respond with a 3-pointer to put SIU back on top, but Illinois State followed with a 9-0 run to put them ahead 45-38 with 11:23 left to play.


Vincent had five points and two rebounds.

The Salukis offense went ice cold at this point, unable to string together any baskets to have a chance at coming back.

Illinois State had three players with double digits in points: Lee (10), Deontae Hawkins (11) and DJ Clayton (13).

The Salukis look to bounce back at 1  p.m. on Saturday against the Aces in Evansville.

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

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