SIU gets past MO State with a buzzer-beater

By Brooke Buerck, Sports Reporter

Tied 66-66 with Missouri State with just 1.6 seconds left on the clock, Southern Illinois had one opportunity to get a shot up as graduate student guard Ronnie Suggs Jr. threw the ball in bounds.

It was freshman guard Marcus Domask who fired the shot and a crowd of 6,528 at Banterra Center as it went in. 

“The crowd was ridiculous,” Domask said. “That’s the reason [playing] on the home court is so special right there. That crowd and just the energy right there, that’s why we play the game.”


This win gives Southern (15-10, 9-3 MVC) their seventh conference win in a row and ninth consecutive win at home. 

“Incredibly happy for our guys and proud of this team,” Saluki head coach Bryan Mullins said. “[We] didn’t play our best tonight, and [I] give a lot of credit to Missouri State and Coach Ford. They really guarded us and did a great job offensively, too, but our guys just stuck with it.”

Southern Illinois held the 43-41 advantage at the half with the help of graduate student center Barret Benson putting up 14 points. 

Benson finished the night with a career-high of 24 points as well as seven rebounds.

“He didn’t practice the last couple of days with a sprained ankle, so it was a game time decision [for him to play],” Mullins said. “And we all know how good [Missouri State’s junior forward Gaige] Prim is, so he went toe-to-toe and was determined to play.”

Prim had a total of 16 points and four rebounds for the night. 

“He’s a really good player, too,” Benson said. “Obviously he was getting a lot of good looks too, so [I was] trying to counter that and match that on the other end as well as limit his shots too.”


The Salukis grabbed their first lead of the game 22-21 with a freshman guard Lance Jones jumper in the paint.

The Bears would fight back to make an 8-point run of their own, but senior guard Eric McGill’s back-to-back 3-point baskets helped SIU take the lead before the half. 

Southern shot 6-for-11 from the 3-point range in the first half, while MO State went 7-for-15. 

Domask said the team’s defense giving up 40 points at the half was something they wanted to fix in the second half. 

“To give up 40 points at halftime, that’s not us. Like Coach was talking about that whole first half, we kind of played Missouri State basketball. We let them dictate everything,” Domask said. “So we just came out and tried to dictate it ourselves and slow it down and play better defense, really.”

The Salukis held a tight lead in the second half, with their largest advantage only a four-point difference. 

With two minutes remaining, the Bears took the slight 66-65 advantage after Prim and senior guard Tulio Da Silva each scored a layup. 

As Southern was in the double bonus, it was Domask at the free throw line who made a shot to tie the game as regulation minutes winded down. 

Missouri State looked to close out the game with a shot after having the ball in possession, but after Benson grabbed the rebound, Domask was able to hit his shot at the buzzer that ended the game.

Aside from Benson and Domask, who finished with 18 points and six rebounds, Southern’s other scorer in double-digits was senior guard Eric McGill.

McGill had 10 points and a team-high of five assists. 

For the Bears, junior forward Josh Hall led on the offensive end with 17 points, while Da Silva finished with a points-rebounds double-double with 12 of each. 

Southern shot 23-for-55 for the night compared to MO State’s 27-for-58 shooting. 

Fifteen of SIU’s points came from the free throw line with only three misses from the charity stripe.

“At the end of the game, these kids are winners,” Mullins said. “They love to compete, they love to find ways to win, and this team is doing that right now. And it’s fun to be a part of and I love coaching this group.”

Southern takes the court again on Feb. 12 against Valparaiso, whom the Salukis defeated 63-50 on their home court on Jan. 7.

“What I think the best thing about this team is, sometimes when things start to click people get relaxed, like they’ve kind of made it almost. But, everyone on the team’s [got] a chip on their shoulder, every day practice is a grind and we’re getting at it, so I think it’s just more big things to come for us,” Domask said.

Tipoff at Valparaiso, Ind., is set for 7 p.m.

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

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