CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – A strong second half wasn't enough for SIUE men's basketball to earn its first conference win of the year. The Cougars fell 92-84 on the road at Austin Peay Saturday night.
SIUE dropped to 5-24 overall and 0-15 in Ohio Valley Conference play. Austin Peay improved to 10-18 overall and 6-8 in the OVC.
Austin Peay led by as many as 21 points twice during the first half. The Governors led 54-37 at halftime, but the Cougars refused to relent.
SIUE shot 54.5 percent (11-27) from the field in the second half and outscored APSU 47-38 only to come up short.
"We fought," SIUE Head Coach Jon Harris said. "The reality is it's frustrating because it's kind of been the same song and dance. At some point we have to be able to put a complete game together."
A pair of Jalen Henry foul shots with 7:59 left trimmed the Austin Peay lead to single digits 74-65 for the first time in the second half. It was two free throws by Henry again with 2:13 left which pulled the Cougars as close as they would get at 81-78.
John Murry drained a three-pointer to put APSU back up by six (84-78) and the Cougars never got any closer.
"We had chances to win the game," Harris said. "We had it down to three points and then we broke down and gave up a three. That was the separation they needed at the end."
Austin Peay sealed the win with six free throws in the final 33 seconds to seal the deal.
"It was a tale of two halves for us," Harris reiterated. "We have to find a way to be better for the whole 40 minutes."
Henry led SIUE with 21 points despite fouling out in the final minute. He was 7 for 12 from the field and 6 of 7 at the free throw line.
"Jalen was very efficient," Harris said. "Unfortunately he was hampered with fouls. He nine points in eight minutes in the first half. We just didn't have enough minutes from him tonight."
Devin Thornton matched his career high with 19 points for the second consecutive game. He was 5 for 11 from the field and 7 of 10 at the free throw line.
"He is doing some really good things," Harris said of Thornton. "He is one guy that has been consistent with his effort and his focus. As his career is closing out it is great to see him have some success. He is pushing and he is raising the energy level of the guys on the floor."
Burak Elsik (16 points) and Christian Ellis (11) also scored in double figures for the Cougars.
Austin Peay was led by Murry, who scored 25 points. Kenny Jones added 20 points.
The Cougars have a week before wrapping up the regular season with Eastern Illinois Saturday at Vadalabene Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
"Eastern is a really good team," Harris said. "Offensively they have been really efficient. We're going to have our hands full. We have a week's worth of work ahead."