Coming off a tough road swing, SIUE needed to show their fans they could close out second half leads and turn them into victory. While they did earn 55-49 win at home over Texas Pan-American, it was far from the convincing blow it could have been. The Cougars once again gave up a double-digit second half lead, this time 16 points with 13:57 to play, and needed shots late to hold on at home.
A long second-half slump led to a 14-0 run by the Broncs, but it wasn’t SIUE’s first slump of the game. The Cougars also happened in the first 12 minutes, where SIUE managed a paltry five points. And their response to both situations was exactly the same: throw it up from deep. Or, at least try.
The Cougars shot 6-22 from deep in the 55-49 win over the Broncs, but if you take out Rozell Nunn’s 4-4 night, the rest of the team combined to hit just 2 of 18 from three-point range. On numerous occasions, SIUE passed up shots in the paint for an open man on the perimeter. It’s a great strategy when they’re falling, but when they weren’t, SIUE never made an adjustment. They kept giving up likely two-pointers for possible three’s, assuming the law of averages would at some point take over.
To make matters worse, the referees were calling a tight game, which SIUE was unable to take advantage of with outside jumpers. SIUE isn’t a bad three point shooting team, hitting 33.8% entering the night, but to win consistently you must be able to vary your offense.
On the plus side, the Cougars much maligned defense had a much more solid night, holding UTPA to 35% shooting from the field, and forcing 15 turnovers in the win.