SIU falls despite big first half in home opener

SIU falls despite big first half in home opener

By Tyler Dixon

 

Earlier in the season, coach Barry Hinson compared sophomore guard Marcus Fillyaw to vanilla ice cream, saying he will control the game and only run the offense, but not much else.

Fillyaw did not get the memo Saturday night.

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After a strong first-half performance, the Salukis could not stop the runs by the St. Louis University Billikens as they fell 76-67 in their home opener.

The first play set the tone for most of the first half for the Salukis. Senior forward Bronson Verhines pulled down a defensive rebound, then threw an alley-oop to senior guard Desmar Jackson.

The Salukis’ largest lead of the game was 13 when they held a 32-19 lead with 5:03 left in the opening segment. The Billikens then went on a 10-0 run to cut the Saluki lead to three.

SIU held the lead in the first half until 56 seconds left when Billiken senior Jake Barnett hit a 3-pointer. SLU grabbed another basket as time expired to take a 37- 36 lead at halftime.

Despite the run at the end of the half by SLU, SIU still shot the ball well. They were 13-25 from the field and 2-3 from beyond the 3-point line.

At the half, Fillyaw had 11 points and was perfect from the field.

“It’s the best point-guard play we’ve had in this building in my two years,” Hinson said. “I think he’s just getting better and better.”

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Fillyaw said the coaches pushed him after the last game to be more physical.

“They’ve been on me at practice ever since we played Mizzou about being more aggressive and making plays for my team so I tried to do that tonight,” Fillyaw said.

The second half was a different story for the Salukis.

Hinson said he did not think the surge by the Billikens at the end of the first half would carry over to the second.

“Obviously it carried over more than I thought it would,” Hinson said. “I just said on the radio I wasn’t really happy with how we started the second half. I think they scored on four of their first five possessions and they basically scored off of second shot attempts.”

SLU held the lead for the entire second half, but the Salukis cut it to one with just more than five minutes left.

A key player in the game for SIU was sophomore guard Jalen Pendleton. He was seen trying to pump his team up in the huddle during a timeout in the second half.

“That’s just what I do; that’s my role on the team is just to be an energy guy and try to be a leader,” Pendleton said. “To get these guys going, that’s all I try to do.”

Pendleton said his team has to admire how SLU played in the second half.

“Credit SLU. They played excellent in the beginning of the second half; we came out sloppy, a little lazy,” Pendleton said. “We tried to pick it up toward the end, but it was too late.”

Jackson led the Salukis with 18 points; Fillyaw added 17 and Pendleton finished with 14.

Verhines nearly had a double-double with 9 points and 11 rebounds in his debut at SIU Arena.

Hinson said there are two players getting better each game.

“(Marcus Fillyaw) and Bronson Verhines. I think the more games they play, the better we’re going to be,” Hinson said.

The Salukis will go on the road Tuesday to take on Austin Peay State University before coming home Thursday to face the University of Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Hinson said his team played hard the entire game, but did not always make smart plays.

“You can’t fault our kids for effort. We played our tails off,” Hinson said. “We don’t play real smart, but I think a lot of that has to do with the maturation process. I think the more mature we are, the better we’ll be.”

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