Men’s basketball: Free throws finish Evansville Purple Aces

By Adam Warfel, Sports Editor

Southern Illinois (13-12, 6-6 MVC) beat Evansville (10-15, 4-8 MVC) 78-73 at SIU Arena tonight.

“I just told these guys we’ve won three out of our last four games, we need to act like it,” Head Coach Barry Hinson said.

This game marked the first meeting for the two teams this season.

The teams have split the season series the last two seasons, with SIU leading the series 69-57.

The game opened with four consecutive missed shots by both teams.

Senior center Kavion Pippen, coming off his 24 points against Missouri State, then opened the scoring for either team.

Evansville then made two three-pointers, and junior guard Eric McGill added one for the Salukis to give the Aces the 6-5 lead early.

Senior forward Armon Fletcher then made a dunk after a steal to give SIU a brief lead.

“We usually start the first half off slow, so the game plan was to really come in with a lot of defensive intensity,” junior guard Aaron Cook said.

Two layups by the Purple Aces then pushed their lead out to three.

Junior guard Aaron Cook and McGill both made three-pointers to help Southern keep the game tied.

A steal by Cook turned into a three pointer by senior guard Sean Lloyd Jr. and then Fletcher added a jumper to give SIU the 18-15 lead with 8:21 left in the first half.

Fletcher and Pippen both added two more points to push the SIU lead out to seven.

A layup by Cook and one of two made free throws by Pippen pushed Southern’s lead out to ten.

Cook finished with 15 points to go along with seven assists.

After the run by the Salukis, the Aces went on an 8-0 run to close within two points of the Salukis with 2:47 left in the first half.

After one made free throw by Evansville senior guard Marcus Bartley made a three pointer to give SIU the 35-30 lead heading into halftime.

A layup by Lloyd and two made free throws by Pippen extended the Saluki lead out to nine early in the second half.

Lloyd finished with 14 points and three steals.

After two more free throws by Lloyd extended the Southern lead out to 11, Evansville scores five straight points to cut the SIU lead to six.

A tip-in by Pippen helped to maintain the lead as the Aces scored four more points to trim the SIU lead to 43-39 at the 14:52 mark in the second half.

A layup and a three-pointer by the Aces thinned the Saluki lead down to one six minutes into the second half.

Pippen added a jumper and one free throw to maintain the Saluki lead as both teams then went almost three minutes without scoring.

One free throw by Fletcher and a three-pointer by Bartley stretched the SIU lead out to six halfway through the second half.

A layup and a free throw by Evansville then cut the Saluki lead down to 52-49.

An 8-0 run by the Salukis led by four points from Pippen helped to push the lead out to nine with 5.39 left in the game.

Pippen finished with the team lead with 18 points to go along with two blocks.

After a free throw by McGill pushed the lead out to ten, the Aces answered with a three-pointer to cut the Southern lead to 59-52.

Evansville and SIU then traded baskets as the Salukis maintained a ten point lead, until a steal by Lloyd turned into a layup by Fletcher to push it to 66-54.

Junior guard Marty Hill made a three-pointer and a free throw, the Aces then made another layup to trim the Southern lead to six with 2:02 left in the game.

While the Purple Aces attempted to cut into the SIU lead Cook added four points to maintain the lead at eight.

Two free throws by Lloyd and two more by Fletcher pushed the Southern lead back out to ten with 35 seconds left.

Lloyd added another free throw, but three free throws and a three-pointer by Evansville put them within five with 17 seconds left.

Cook made a free throw, but a three-pointer by Hill trimmed the Saluki lead to 76-73 with nine seconds left.

Fletcher made both of his free throws with eight seconds left for the final score of 78-73.

All five starters finished the game in double figures for the Salukis.

Southern will be back in action on Tuesday vs Drake at SIU Arena with tip off set for 7 p.m.

Sports editor Adam Warfel can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at warfel_adam

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