Thursday night, Tennessee Tech lost despite a huge shooting advantage from the field over Tennessee State. SIU Edwardsville saw that performance and decided they could do one better.
Despite shooting 60% from the floor, SIU Edwardsville falls on the road to Eastern Kentucky 78-72. That shooting percentage is the highest single game percentage for the Cougars against a Division I team since joining Division I.
And they lost.
Eastern Kentucky shoots a pedestrian (by comparison) 47% from the field, but get the win thanks to an big turnover advantage and 19-21 shooting from the free throw line.
Trailing by 10 with 11:01 to play, SIU Edwardsville goes on a 14-2 run, taking the lead on a Michael Messer layup with 7:19 to play. After a Messer three with 5:37 to play ties the game at 63, the Cougars don’t score another field goal until the final 16 seconds of the game, as Eastern Kentucky holds on for the win.
Four Colonels scored in double figures, led 17 from Mike DiNunno. Corey Walden and Orlando Williams combined for 30 points off the bench, as Eastern Kentucky got just over half their scoring from four non-starters. Eastern Kentucky turned the ball over just eight times on the night, while forcing 17 from Eastern Kentucky. As a result, the Colonels had a seven point edge on points off turnovers.
Jerome Jones led SIU Edwardsville with 15 points, and Mark Yelovich added 14 coming off the bench. Maurice Wiltz, who had a big game in his first back from injury Thursday night was held to just 4 points, but did play 25 minutes off the bench for the Colonels. With the exception of Wiltz, every SIUE player that scored shot 50% or better from the field.
Eastern Kentucky has been a fairly solid defensive team so far this season, but it’s hard to put much positive spin onto their play on the defensive end tonight. They continue to score in bunches, and will outscore many teams this year, but they’re not going to win many games when they allow opponents to shoot 60% from the field. In fact, it’s pretty amazing they’ve managed to do it once. EKU had a chance to slip up tonight, down in the second half, but were able to rally for a win, and their defense (finally) stepped up at the end, holding SIUE without a field goal for a five minute stretch late in the second half.
SIU Edwardsville is getting healthier, and getting better. It’s tough to pick up wins on the road, and the Colonels may regret letting a chance slip through their fingers tonight. The Cougars defense, especially in the first half, wasn’t great, but the Cougars did a much better job on the boards tonight, out rebounding the Colonels. Turnovers an immediate problem for SIU Edwardsville, and it’s something they clearly need to be worked on to have success this season.
Eastern Kentucky travels to Murray State (11-3, 2-0) before hosting rival Morehead State (8-8, 2-0) this week. SIU Edwardsville is at home , hosting Jacksonville State (10-5, 2-2) and Tennessee Tech. (6-9, 0-3)