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SIU Men’s Basketball

SIU Men's Basketball | Missouri State hands Salukis first MVC loss

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Too much length and too much strength trumped SIU’s frequent usage and above-average efficiency from the 3-point line Wednesday night.

Missouri State employed its height and weight advantages in the lane for most of the game, getting the Salukis in early foul trouble and then converting consistently to hand them an 81-76 Missouri Valley Conference loss at JQH Arena.

Isiaih Mosley scored a game-high 33 points, including 25 in the second half, in a followup to his career-high 43 points on Saturday night. Donovan Clay added 13 and Gaige Prim contributed 12 points as the Bears sank 51.9 percent from the field, including 12 of 20 in the second half.

“I thought I did a good job on him in the first half,” said SIU guard Steven Verplancken, Jr. of Mosley. “In the second half, I didn’t do my assignment on him and I own up to that. He’s a good player and I was trying to keep the ball in his left hand and make him earn everything.

”You can’t give him an easy one so that he can get into rhythm, like he did tonight.”

Marcus Domask was contained for 39 minutes but led a late SIU rally with 11 points in the final minute, finishing with a team-high 20. He sank two foul shots with 5.0 seconds left to pull the Salukis within 79-76, but freshman Isaac Haney sealed the outcome by making two free throws with 3.1 seconds remaining.

Verplancken, who didn’t score in Saturday night’s 63-60 win at Valparaiso, contributed 16 points, going 4 of 5 from the 3-point line. Ben Coupet, Jr. also added 16 and Lance Jones scored 10 points.

The Salukis (9-6, 2-1) canned 14 of 29 3-pointers but made just 8 of 25 2-point attempts. Coach Bryan Mullins said he liked the shots they got when they executed their plays but felt they were guilty of taking quick shots occasionally.

“The ball moved,” Mullins said. “The assist numbers could have been higher. We just have to make sure we’re taking the shots we want to take.”

The telling stat was points in the paint. The Bears (12-6, 3-2) owned an 18-2 advantage at halftime and finished the game with a 40-10 margin in that category, including Clay’s dunk with 1:21 left off a Prim feed that made the lead 71-62.

The atmosphere at the opening tip was borderline library silence. Missouri State fans must not have been pleased with a one-point loss to Northern Iowa on Saturday night. The crowd was listed as 3,886 but looked smaller in the beautiful 11,000-seat arena.

The SIU bench was making more noise than the crowd in the first six-plus minutes as the Salukis used the 3-point line to establish a 15-8 lead. Verplancken, Coupet and Anthony D’Avanzo each stroked 3-pointers, while Kyler Filewich contributed a pair of buckets off the bench.

But there was a quick, disturbing trend that affected the way SIU played throughout the half. Filewich drew two fouls and J.D. Muila got one while trying to defend Prim, the 6-9 senior who last year went off against the Salukis at Banterra Center for 29 points and 21 rebounds.

Prim drew a total of nine fouls in his 32 minutes.

“Obviously, Kyler and J.D. didn’t play as much as they could have because of the foul trouble, so it affected us a little bit,” Mullins said.

The Bears finally found some traction offensively and rattled off 10 straight points to grab an 18-15 edge on a 3-ball by Mosley at the 10:53 mark. From there, the teams went back-and-forth for the half’s remainder.

SIU scored seven straight points for a 26-23 lead with 5:46 on the clock after a Domask foul shot, but Missouri State responded with six in a row as Lu’Cye Patterson set up a bucket with an offensive rebound and then powered home a layup.

Domask’s 3-pointer made it 34-33 Salukis in the last minute, but a failed gamble defensively led to a Ja’Monta Black corner 3 that gave the Bears a 36-34 edge at the break.

DAWG BITES

The Valley on Monday revealed that SIU’s last home game of the season against Illinois State will be moved back a night from Feb. 22 to Feb. 23 with the starting time set for 7 p.m. It’s the result of the Redbirds’ game against Loyola on Jan. 5 being postponed because of COVID-19 protocol and being rescheduled for Feb. 21. … It was Verplancken’s third-highest scoring game of the year, behind his 17 points against SEMO Dec. 15 and his 18 points in a Nov. 19 win over Colorado in the Virgin Islands. … The Salukis open a three-game homestand Saturday night against Northern Iowa at 7.

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