SIU collapses in final minutes, falls to Northern Iowa


Senior guard Mike Rodriguez leans over after SIU’s 58-57 loss against the Northern Iowa Panthers on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, at SIU Arena. (Luke Nozicka | @lukenozicka)

Halfway through the second half it looked like the Salukis would walk away with a win Saturday, but after a bad final eight minutes of play they fell to Northern Iowa 58-57.

The loss put SIU (14-7, 4-4 MVC) in fifth place in the Missouri Valley Conference, while a win would’ve left them tied for third with Missouri State (14-7, MVC 5-3).

Northern Iowa fought its way back after being down 42-53 with 8:23 on the clock. UNI (8-11, 3-5 MVC) proceeded to score three points to make the score 45-54.


Junior foward Thik Bol split some free throws, extending the lead to 55-45. Iowa then put together a 9-0 run, cutting Southern’s lead to just one with 1:50 left.

Senior guard Mike Rodriguez found Bol cutting to the rim for a dunk, extending SIU’s lead to 57-54.

Northern got themselves within one point as junior forward Klint Carlson managed to get a layup, making the score 56-57.

With 15 seconds left, sophomore guard Armon Fletcher was called for a shooting foul against senior guard Jeremy Morgan.

Morgan hit both of his free throws, putting Northern Iowa up 58-57.

Rodriguez brought the ball up the court after the free throws and missed what would have been the game winning 3-pointer, making this SIU’s second straight lost.


“The first thing I talked about in postgame with our guys was that I was really proud of their energy and effort,” Coach Hinson said. “Our kids fought tonight, they played their tails off. This was just a night where we could not make a shot.”

The Salukis only made one of their last 10 field goal attempts in the closing eight minutes of the game.

But the beginning of the second half looked way different.

Fletcher came out of the halftime break with vengeance, scoring 11 straight points for the Salukis, highlighted by two alley-oops from Rodriguez to Fletcher.

The 6-foot-4-inch sophomore had 16 points, four rebounds and two assists.

SIU used this momentum to get to its lead peak to 12 at one point in the half.

“At the 3:4o mark we had a five point lead and the timeout comes up and I said ‘We don’t have to score another bucket, all we have to do is get stops,'” Hinson said.

Both teams struggled to get any offense going in the first four minutes of play, only scoring a combined five points.

Sophomore guard Sean Lloyd got Southern’s first basket of the game by way of a steal and breakaway lay-up. That made the Salukis 1-7 shooting to start the game.

Lloyd would be a constant contributor for the Salukis, scoring six points and grabbing five rebounds and a steal.

Northern Iowa responded immediately and freshmen forward Luke McDonnell hit a 3-pointer to extend their lead, 7-3.

Senior guard Mike Rodriguez attempts a layup Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, during SIU’s 58-57 loss against the Northern Iowa Panthers at SIU Arena. (Luke Nozicka | @lukenozicka)


UNI continued to string together baskets, but thanks to senior guard Leo Vincent scoring five points off the bench, SIU was only down 12-8 with 11:41 left.

Vincent would finish with 11 points on the night.

After the media timeout the Dawgs went on a 10-0 run, giving them their first lead of the game and a 18-12 advantage.

Northern Iowa didn’t let the lead get out of hand and scored back-to-back lay-ups to cut the lead 18-16.

With less than two minutes left, the Panthers regained the lead after Carlson tied the game at 24 with a 3-pointer. Then freshmen guard Spencer Haldeman hit one, giving them a 27-24 lead.

Carlson had 10 points for UNI, while Haldeman scored 13.

Senior foward Sean O’Brien danced his way to a nice-looking mid-range basket for the final basket of the half, at which point SIU trailed 27-26.

O’Brien had an impact on the game, scoring eight points and grabbing eight rebounds.

“This one hurt,” Hinson said.”And you know what the good news is, we’re going to Wichita State on Tuesday. This is college basketball, this is the grind, this is when you step up.”

The Salukis will look to break the losing streak as they play Wichita State at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Kansas.

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

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