A crowd of 3,507 turned out to see the first meeting between the sister schools in Edwardsville in more than 25 years.
"This was an important game for us," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "The result had a lot to do with how well Carbondale played. We took the lead, but they regrouped and played better down the stretch."
SIUE, now 1-2, never led in the first half though the score was tied twice. The Salukis' Josh Swan hit a fade away high off the glass at the buzzer to send SIUC into the locker room with a 35-28 lead.
A 14-5 SIUE run over the first 7:04 of the second half put the Cougars on top for the first time at 42-40. Derian Shaffer capped the run with a layup. Kendal Brown-Surles hit a three-pointer to put SIUC back on top before Shaffer hit another lay-in with 11:59 left which made it 44-43 Cougars. It was the last time the Cougars had the lead.
Shaffer led all scorers with 17 points and 10 rebounds. It was the third double-double of his Cougar career.
"Derian was a bright spot tonight," Forrester said of the senior. "I thought he played well on both ends of the floor, and he was also great in practice this week. It showed tonight by how well he played."
The Salukis led 62-47 when Kris Davis' three-point attempt from the right corner glanced off the back of the rim. Jerome Jones appeared to pull down the rebound, but the ball came loose, Jones and SIUC's Antonio Bryer went to the floor after the loose ball. An altercation ensued directly in front of the Cougars' bench. Following a 20-minute delay seven players had been ejected. Six of them were SIUE players. Jones and Bryer were each ejected for flagrant fouls as was SIUE's Ray Lester who went to the floor following Jones and Bryer. The other four Cougars were ejected for leaving the bench during the altercation.
"Our guys wanted to win, but you have to be able to compete and also keep your cool," Forrester said.
Yelovich was the only other SIUE player who scored in double figures. He scored 11 points and added six rebounds. Jones added nine points for the Cougars.
The Salukis, now 3-0, saw four players score in double digits. Jeff Early led the way with a double-double of his own. He scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Brown-Surles and Anthony Beane, Jr. each scored 15 points. Desmar Jackson finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Cougars committed a season-high 20 turnovers, including 12 in the first half. The Salukis capitalized by scoring 24 points off the Cougars' miscues.
"A lot of (SIUC's) layups came off our turnovers," Forrester added. "That's one thing we stressed before the game was that we had to take care of the basketball, and we didn't do that, which led to a lot of transition layups for them."
SIUE next travels to Edinburg, Texas, for a Saturday game at Texas-Pan American. Tip time is set for 2 p.m.