EDWARDSVILLE — A new two-year contract to continue the rivalry was announced Wednesday after the men's basketball game between SIU-Carbondale and SIUE at the Vadalabene Center. SIUE head coach Lennox Forrester just hopes his squad can perform better in the next two contests.
The Cougars (1-4) lost 79-67 to the Salukis (4-3) on Wednesday, but trailed 45-22 at the break and had more turnovers, seven, than field goals, six, heading to the locker room.
“It's a great thing to play a team like Carbondale,” Forrester said. “But it won't be good for long if we don't do better than we have in the four times that we've played them. I think our first home game against them was about the only time we battled them until about four or five minutes down the stretch, but other than that they've really taken it to us.”
SIUE is 0-7 all-time against the Salukis now and 0-4 during the Division I era. Carbondale won 74-57 in 2013 at SIU Arena.
On Wednesday the Salukis came out firing, charging out to a 7-1 lead. They used runs of 13-3 and 12-0 to nab a 23-point lead at the end of the first half at 45-23. SIUC's Anthony Beane practically outscored the Cougars on his own with 20 first-half points. Beane had seven field goals individually, while SIUE only had six as a team.
Beane could pretty much do whatever he wanted to do during the first half.
“He was unbelievable,” Forrester said. “All five of our guys guarded him at one time and he scored on all five. He came in averaging 20 points and had 20 at halftime. I thought he did a great job driving to the basket. He's so crafty and he's just a really good scorer and we knew he was going to be hard to guard.”
Marquette Catholic High grad and current freshman at Carbondale, Deion Lavender, boasted about Beane's skills after the game. Lavender only logged six minutes late in the game Wednesday and did not score.
“That's just him,” Lavender said with a grin about Beane. “That's what he does, he goes out and scores.”
SIUC head coach Barry Hinson added about Beane, “I think he's got 82 points in the last three games and we don't win any of those unless he does that, but the best thing is he's scored 27 on 14, 27 on 14 and 28 on 18 shots tonight. To me that's the most impressive stat. He's not forcing it. One shot tonight (he forced), that's it out of 18 shots. I think that's good.”
The Cougars settled in during the second half, but it was too late after the hole they dug for themselves in the first half.
After a 3-pointer by Fort Zumwalt North grad Chaz Glotta at 13:26 gave the Salukis their biggest lead of the game at 27 points at 61-34, SIUE began to slowly chip away. During mop up time late, the Cougars constructed a 12-1 lead over the final 3:13 of the game to dwindle the deficit below 10 points.
After shooting just 23.1 percent (6 of 26) from the field in the first half, SIUE came back to shoot 78.9 percent (15 of 19) in the second half. It gave the Cougars a respectable 46.7 (21 of 45) shooting percentage for the game. SIUC shot 46.2 percent (24 of 52) for the game.
“I thought our guys had jitters (early),” Forrester said. “The fans were pretty excited. It was a game where they came out to watch us play and I thought our guys were nervous. Guys that normally make shots didn't make shots. We were 1 of 9 from 3s (in first half) and there were wide open looks and we just didn't knock them down. Second half I thought we got our composure a little bit and made some shots down the stretch.”
It was guards Kris Davis and Donivine Stewart leading the offensive charge with 18 points and 17 points respectively. Stewart also logged a game-high 36 minutes, while Davis was right on his heels at 34.
With Maurice Wiltz banged up and Rozell Nunn playing his first game of the season, the guard tandem was the focal point on Wednesday. While Forrester admitted Davis and Stewart will be the leaders for SIUE, he also pleaded for other players to step up and help them.
“We have to feed off those two guys because of how our style of play,” Forrester said. “They can put the basketball on the floor and score and create for others. Going into the year I wanted to limit their minutes a little bit because I know it's going to be a long season, but so far we haven't had some of the other players step up to the plate yet. Right now those guys are playing a lot more minutes than I want them to, but hopefully some of our new guys, our younger guys, can continue to grow so those guys aren't playing that many minutes.”
Davis and Stewart were the only two Cougars to reach double digits. Joining Beane in double figures for the Salukis were: Glotta and Jalen Pendelton with 13 points apiece.
Hinson seconds Forrester's wish that the rivalry keeps going and gets better. At least on a local level, with SIUC having Lavender and red-shirt freshman Armon Fletcher from Edwardsville and SIUE recently signing Alton's Carlos Anderson who will be a freshman next season, it should be intriguing.
Attendance was 3,508 at the V.C. on Wednesday.
“I think this is a good regional rivalry,” Hinson said. “It's good for both sets of fans. They had a great crowd tonight, we always have a great crowd at our place. We have two staffs that respect each other and we know both sides really well because we recruit the same players. It's a good and very respectful rivalry.”
The Cougars are now back in action at noon on Saturday at Central Michigan before heading to Saint Louis University at 6 p.m. on Dec. 13. The Salukis get back to work at 7:35 p.m. Saturday welcoming Austin Peay to SIU Arena.
SIUC 79, SIUE 67
SIUC 45 34 — 79
SIUE 22 45 — 67
SIUE (1-4) — Kris Davis 18, Keaton Jackson 5, Rozell Nunn 2, Michael Messer 2, Donivine Stewart 17, Michael Chandler 2, Maurice Wiltz 5, C.J. Carr 6, Grant Fiorentinos 2, Keenan Simmons 8. 2FG — 16 3FG — 5 FT — 20 PF — 25.
SIUC (4-3) — Tyler Smithpeters 5, Jordan Caroline 9, Anthony Beane 28, Sean O'Brien 4, Jalen Pendelton 13, Chaz Glotta 13, Bola Olaniyan 4, Dawson Verhines 3. 2FG — 17 3FG — 7 FT — 24 PF — 24.