Salukis split season series with Drake


Junior forward Thik Bol prepares to make a free throw near the conclusion of the Salukis’ 74-70 win over Texas Southern on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, at SIU Arena. (Jacob Wiegand | @jawiegandphoto)

By Jonathan Thompson

SIU men’s basketball lost its second matchup with Drake after winning the first, this time losing 88-84 in overtime Wednesday in Des Moines.

After being down by 12 points at most, SIU managed to battle its way back into the game early in the second half. Senior guard Mike Rodriguez hit two free throws to even the score at 68 with 4:03 left in regulation.

Rodriguez led the way for the Salukis by scoring 24 points, dishing seven assists and grabbing five rebounds.


After a media timeout, Drake immediately took back the lead by making one free throw followed by a dunk from junior forward T.J. Thomas to put the Bulldogs back on top by three.

Rodriguez responded by scoring SIU’s next two baskets — a mid-range shot and layup — to put the Salukis up 71-70 with 1:35 left to play.

Southern extended its lead to five after a midrange shot and some free throws by junior forward Thik Bol.

With 18 seconds left, Bulldog junior guard Ore Arogundade nailed a 3-pointer that cut the Salukis lead to two. With 12 seconds remaining, SIU inbounded the ball, almost turning it over, which shaved about two seconds off the clock.

On the next inbound attempt Drake got the steal and Thomas air-balled a 3-pointer into Arogundades’s hands. He was fouled and made both free throws, sending the game into overtime.

The Salukis shot well in the second regulation, making 51 percent of their field foals — 75 percent from deep and 75 percent from the line.

That was a big turnaround compared to their first half shooting — a 38.2 percent field goal percentage, 23.1 from deep and 55.6 percent from the line.


SIU was in control for most of the overtime period. Sophomore guard Armon Fletcher hit a two-pointer that put the Salukis up by three with 3:05 left.

Fletcher finished with 18 points and seven rebounds.

On the next possession, junior guard Graham Woodward grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled on his shot attempt by Salukis guard Rodriguez.

That was Rodriguez’s fifth foul, meaning SIU was without their leading scorer for the remainder of the game.

Woodard hit his two free throws, cutting Southern’s lead to just one.

Fletcher would get a steal two plays later and make the layup to put SIU back up by three.

Drake responded quickly as Arogundade hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 84 with 1:17 left. Arogundade tallied 19 points and four rebounds.

The Bulldogs ended the game with a 4-0 run to pull off a second victory over SIU this season.

The Salukis square up against Northern Iowa next at 7 p.m. Saturday at home.

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

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