Daily Egyptian

Shorthanded Salukis fall to Drake Bulldogs on New Year’s Eve

By Dillon Gilliland

Coming off a crucial win at Northern Iowa, the Salukis looked to carry their momentum into the final game of the 2017 calendar year. Instead, Southern was served with surprises and disappointment.

After they discovered that senior forward Thik Bol will miss the remainder of the season with an injury and that junior forward Rudy Stradnieks was unavailable with the flu, the Salukis were forced to battle the Drake Bulldogs shorthanded on Sunday.

Despite a late rally from the Salukis who did play in the game, Southern ultimately fell short of a victory against the Bulldogs (8-7, 2-0 MVC) by a score of 70-67.

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“I’m extremely disappointed in what this team is having to go through,” head coach Barry Hinson said. “This team can’t take much more adversity.”

The Salukis trailed quickly in the first half as Drake’s senior guard Reed Timmer — who led all scorers with 20 points — racked up four immediate points that earned the Bulldogs a 9-2 lead.

After trailing by as much as 16, Southern showed life and ended the half on a 10-4 run. Junior guard Armon Fletcher and senior forward Jonathan Wiley led the run with six points each and brought the Salukis within 10 at 36-26.

Down by 14 midway into the second half, Southern used seven offensive rebounds to generate second-chance points and shifted the momentum back in its favor. Seven unanswered points from the Salukis brought them within seven at 52-45.

The Bulldogs increased their lead to 13 before the Salukis put together an 8-0 run led by Fletcher — who scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the game —and junior guard Marcus Bartley that made the score 67-62.

As time winded down, Bartley came up with a pivotal steal that led to a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Aaron Cook and brought the score to 69-67.

“We needed to foul or get a steal so I figured it was the right time to gamble for a steal,” Bartley said.

Down by three, the Salukis were granted one last possession with less than ten seconds remaining. Fletcher stepped up to the plate and attempted the game-tying buzzer beater that saw the ball roll in and out of the basket.

After the miss, Drake stormed off the court in triumph.

“It’s a great win for our guys,” Drake head coach Niko Medved said. “I’m really proud of them.”

Up next, the Salukis (9-6, 1-1 MVC) will remain home and take on the Evansville Purple Aces on Jan. 3. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“We came out flat,” Bartley said. “We didn’t come out with a lot of energy and when you do that you get beat.”

Sports reporter Dillon Gilliland can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @DillonGilliland.

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