Salukis bring home one win and two losses from Sunshine Slam

By Brooke Buerck and Tamar Mosby

Four games in six days earned the Southern Illinois men’s basketball squad two wins and two losses to kick off the first week of official season play. 

This weekend the Salukis travelled to Kissimmee, Fla. for three games at the Sunshine Slam tournament at the Silver Spurs Arena. 

On Friday, SIU took on the University of Texas San Antonio Roadrunners, Saturday, the University of Delaware Blue Hens and Sunday, the Golden Grizzlies of University of Oakland.

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GAME 1

On the first day of the Sunshine Slam, the Salukis took charge of the floor with energy as they shot off to a 20-point lead over UTSA in the first half of the game. 

This initial lead helped Southern a great deal when things slowed down for them on the offensive end in the second half.

Leading SIU on offense was freshman forward Marcus Domask, who tallied 24 points in the game going 6-for-9 from the field. 

Helping Domask were the team’s seniors, Aaron Cook, who had 19 points along with four rebounds and assists, and Barrett Benson, who scored a career high of 17 points. 

Senior guard Eric McGill kept things under control for the SIU offense by dishing out seven assists, which tied his career high, and by keeping the ball away from the Roadrunner defense, earning not a single turnover in tonight’s game.

A 15-0 scoring run for UTSA in the second half did heavy damage to the Southern lead.

Despite this, the Salukis were able to hold on to their lead from the first half and walk away with the win at 72-60.

GAME 2

On Saturday the Salukis returned to the Silver Spurs Arena for a game against the University of Delaware Blue Hens. 

The Salukis found themselves in a 10-point hole headed into halftime, and were forced to play catch-up throughout the second frame. 

Southern was tied 15-15 with Delaware with 10 minutes left in the half, but the Blue Hens found a nine-point scoring run unanswered by the Salukis that propelled them forward. 

The Blue Hens led by as many as 12 in the second half with a 45-33 advantage with 14 minutes on the clock, but a fast break layup, a jumper and two free throws from McGill sparked a comeback for Southern.

The Salukis picked up the pace late into the second half, tying the score 50-all with just 2:30 remaining. 

Their momentum carried them to find a 3-point margin lead with just 1:21 left, and the last few minutes of play would be down to the wire for both squads. 

With two made Delaware layups, Southern needed to stop the clock to try and keep in the game, but the Blue Hens capitalized on the bonus free throws as well to help seal the close 56-54 victory.

Cook led SIU with 16 points, while McGill chipped in 11. 

Benson added eight points with seven rebounds and one solo block.

GAME 3

On Sunday, Southern faced the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies for their final game at Kissimmee, Fla., as well as their fourth game in six days. 

SIU struggled in the first half, trailing Oakland 31-19 by the end of the frame while shooting only at a 31 percent average.

Sophomore forward Danial Oladapo put up 12 points to lead Oakland, while for the Salukis, Domask led with eight points, including two three-pointers. 

The Golden Grizzlies outrebounded Southern 23-10 during the first 20 minutes, with SIU grabbing only two offensive rebounds. 

Southern’s halftime adjustments paid off early in the second half as the Salukis worked to decrease their deficit to just five after a three-point basket from freshman guard Trent Brown. 

Oakland wouldn’t allow the Salukis any closer, but with 8:00 minutes left they held only a 46-40 lead.

Cook made two consecutive steals and converted them to baskets with less than three minutes left to bring Southern to within eight of the Golden Grizzlies, down 57-49.

Cook had 7 steals to go along with 16 points to finish out the game.

Domask fouled for the first time this season with less than a minute left for the Salukis, and the final few seconds ticked away allowing Oakland to take the 61-52 win.

The Salukis come back home for their next game, which will be against the University of San Francisco Dons on Saturday, Nov. 16. 

Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m. at Banterra Center.

Sports reporter Brooke Buerck can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bbuerck25.

Sports reporter Tamar Mosby can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @mosbytamar.

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