Southern’s big first half leads to win over Evansville Purple Aces

By Adam Warfel, Sports Editor

A first half which featured 50 points and 60 percent shooting from Southern proved to be enough as they defeated Evansville, 98-91.

SIU was looking to sweep the Purple Aces in the season with a win and win their second game in a row after defeating Loyola 63-53 on Sunday.

Evansville came into the game losing their last six games, this game marks the Purple Aces’ last home game of the season.

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A trio of three-pointers by senior guard Armon Fletcher, junior guard Eric McGill and senior guard Sean Lloyd Jr. allowed for the Salukis to open up a 11-2 lead early.

After a layup by junior guard Aaron Cook SIU (16-14, 9-8 MVC) led by nine, but a three-pointer by junior guard KJ Riley and two made free throws by the Aces cut the Saluki lead down to 15-11.

Southern defense forced Evansville (10-20, 4-13 MVC) to miss to miss two consecutive shots, senior center Thik Bol added a mid range jumper to push the Dawgs lead out to seven.

Fletcher cleaned up a three-pointer missed by senior guard Marcus Bartley and he made the tip-in. In the next play, he stole the ball which led to a dunk as SIU led 23-12 with 11:11 left in the half.

Another three-pointer by McGill pushed the Southern lead out to 14 but a jumper and two made free throws by the Aces closed the SIU lead down to ten.

A three-pointer and jumper by Fletcher pushed the Saluki lead out to 33-17, while the defense held the Purple Aces to 29 percent field goal shooting with 7:51 left in the first half.

Lloyd made a jumper by the baseline to push the lead out to 18, but two layups by senior guard Marty Hill and a three-pointer by sophomore guard Noah Frederking cut the Southern lead to 39-26.

Bartley made one of his two free throws and Lloyd made another jumper to push the lead back out to 16, but Evansville went on a short 5-0 run to cut the SIU lead down to 11.

Bartley made a three-pointer to end the run by the Purple Aces but Evansville responded with three more points off one free throw and a jumper to narrow it back down to eleven, Bartley ended the half with a three-pointer to give the Dawgs a 50-36 lead heading into the locker room.

The Aces opened the second half with five quick points but a dunk by McGill triggered a 7-3 for the Salukis with layups by Lloyd and Fletcher to make it 62-44 five minutes into the second half.

A jumper by senior center Kavion Pippen pushed the lead out to 19 but the Purple Aces then made three consecutive three-pointers and added two made free throws to make it 65-57.

Pippen made three free throws and Lloyd made a layup while Evansville made one free throw as SIU pushed their lead back out to 14 halfway through the second half.

The Aces were able to crawl back to a nine point deficit after a layup by senior guard Shea Feehan but a jumper by Pippen and a dunk by McGill to push the Southern lead out to 79-66.

An 8-2 run by Evansville cut the Southern lead down to six with 3:13 left in the game

Fletcher finished tied for his career high with 34 point, and two rebounds – two shy of a double-double.

The Purple Aces were able to cut the Dawgs lead down to four with 36 seconds left, after a three-pointer by Marty Hill.

Hill finished with 14 points, just behind the leader Riley who had 16 and grabbed seven rebounds for the Aces.

Fletcher made all four of his free throws to close out the game as Southern defeated Evansville 98-91.

The Salukis will be back action on Saturday for senior night against the Illinois State Redbirds at SIU Arena with tip off is set for 1 p.m.

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

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