EDWARDSVILLE — A strong second half wasn't enough to overcome a slow start Monday as SIUE men's basketball fell 87-69 to Green Bay at the Vadalabene Center.
Green Bay won its fourth consecutive game and improved to 4-3 for the season. The Cougars dropped to 1-5 with their fifth straight loss.
The Cougars fell behind by 15 points in the first 4:19 and could never recover. The Phoenix led 16-1 when Connor Wheeler hit SIUE's first field goal of the night at the 15:23 mark of the first half.
"Green Bay is a good team and they do a good job dictating the tempo and making teams play at their pace," SIUE head coach Jon Harris said. "We fell victim to that and it's something we need to work on from start to finish."
The Cougars trimmed the lead to 10 (32-22) on a C.J. Carr jumper with seven minutes to go before halftime, but Green Bay ended the half with a 22-6 run to swell the lead to 54-28 at the break.
The Phoenix connected on 61.8 percent (21-34) of its shots during the first 20 minutes. Green Bay forced nine SIUE turnovers and converted them into 18 points in the half.
SIUE stormed out of the gates in the second half, opening the period with a 9-0 run, fueled by seven points from Lewis and Clark transfer Burak Eslik. The Cougars trimmed the lead to 13 when Grant Fiorentinos tossed in a jumper with 7:57 to play, but it was as close as SIUE would come.
SIUE turned the ball over just twice during the second half. The Cougars outrebounded Green Bay 43-40 and grabbed 20 offensive rebounds leading to a 19-8 advantage in second chance points. SIUE outscored Green Bay 41-33 in the second half.
"We were able to cut into the lead a couple times in the second half and we ended up winning the second half by eight because we played at our pace," Harris added.
Fiorentinos led the Cougars in scoring for the second straight game and the third time this season. Fiorentinos scored 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting. He scored 11 points in the second half.
"I give Grant a lot of credit because he's stayed the course," Harris said. "He's done a great job for us and has done everything we've asked of him. He's consistent in practice and it shows when he plays. We tell the guys that you are what you do every day, and Grant has found a way to do that."
Alton High product Carlos Anderson added a career-high 14 points. Eslik scored 11 points and has scored in double figures in all six games for the Cougars.
Jordan Fouse led Green Bay with a career-high 22 points. He was one of five players to score in double figures for the Phoenix. Carrington Love scored 17 points. Charles Cooper scored 15 points and led the team with eight rebounds.
SIUE returns to the road to begin a three-game stretch away from home. The Cougars will face Milwaukee Thursday in a 6 p.m. game.