By: Matt Schneider
On a night that SIU celebrated inducting six members into the Hall of Fame they faced the Missouri State Bears. The Bears came into Carbondale with a record of 14-8 and are coming off a close game at home against Drake where they lost in overtime 71-72. Southern Illinois came into Saturday night’s contest on a three game losing streak and most recently was embarrassed by in Wichita State 45-87. This was also a big contest since SIU head coach Barry Hinson was the former coach at Missouri State and Missouri State head coach Paul Lusk was a player at SIU.
The story in the first half was how Missouri State just could not miss a shot. The Bears shot 17-27 from the field for 63 percent and were 4-9 from behind the three-point line. The Salukis struggled in the first half only shooting 46 percent and were unable to make anything from behind the three-point line. Southern Illinois was able to weather the storm of shooting from the Bears that helped put them up 40-28 heading to halftime.
Sean O’Brien said after the game that the talk at halftime was all about defense and that showed right away. SIU stormed out of the half on an 8-0 run before Missouri State called a timeout. Missouri State had a tough time scoring. They were 10-29 in the second half for only 35 percent. Sean Lloyd hit a three to give SIU the lead 53-51. After that SIU only lost the lead once but regained it on the next possession on a Sean Lloyd three. Jarrid Rhodes hit a three to tie the game at 69 with 13.6 seconds in regulation. Mike Rodriguez missed a jumper and Leo Vincent missed the tip in right before the buzzer.
In overtime SIU got off to a fast start by getting out to a four-point lead. SIU was forced to make free throws and they did. In overtime they were 8-10 from the line and Lloyd was able to knock down four foul shots to essentially ice the game. Alize Johnson knocked down a half-court shot with .4 seconds on the clock to make it a 1-point game but it wasn’t enough as SIU won a great game in front of a great crowd 85-84.
Even though Missouri State scored 25 bench points to only ten for SIU. SIU was not only able to get to the line but also make those shots. They attempted 26 free throws and made 19. Missouri State went to line only 15 times and made 13 of them. SIU coach Barry Hinson said that “this game was huge for us. This was essentially a must win to stay in the top half of the MVC.” Hinson also said that this was one of O’Brien’s best games ever. O’Brien finished with 24 points nine rebounds and six assists in 39 minutes. Sean Lloyd finished with 15 points. Armon Fletcher had a double-double with ten points and eleven rebounds. Thik Bol and Mike Rodriguez also had double digits in points. Alize Johnson led the Bears with 26 points and was 4-6 for three. Missouri State fell to 14-9 overall and 5-5 in conference play. SIU is now 12-11 and 5-5 in the MVC. SIU will play Bradley on Wednesday at home. Bradley comes into Carbondale 8-15. You can listen to the game on WIDB.net The Revolution starting at 7 pm.