Cougars Open Final Roadtrip with Win at Eastern Kentucky
"I'm fired up for our guys and happy for them to get the win," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "They stayed focused and beat a good team on the road."
With the win the Cougars improve to 9-16 overall. EKU dropped to 15-15. Both teams are tied for eighth in the Ohio Valley Conferece with identical 6-9 records in league play.
Jones finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds. It was the junior's third double-double and the fifth 20-point game this season. Yelovich scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. It was Yelovich's fourth double-double of the season, and the sixth of his career. Yelovich now has 1,173 points for his career to move into fifth all-time in scoring at SIUE. Derian Shaffer chipped in a career-high 17 points and grabbed six rebounds.
"I thought we did some really good things," Forrester said. "Especially getting the ball inside to Derian and attacking the basket."
SIUE never trailed in the second half, but the game was not without its drama. The Cougars led by 14 (57-43) with 1:29 left, before EKU chipped away at the lead, thanks in large part to missed free throws by the Cougars. SIUE missed eight of 14 free throws down the stretch, allowing the Colonels to close the gap. Jones was 5 of 6 at the stripe during that stretch and finished the game 7 of 8 from the free throw line.
"I keep preaching the fundamentals of basketball," Forrester said. "We spend a lot of time on free throws. We need to capitalize on our chances at the free throw line."
The Cougars jumped out to an 11-4 lead, thanks to poor shooting by EKU. The Colonels missed their first 13 shots from the floor. Eric Stutz managed EKU's first field goal at 10:53 to make it 11-6. The Colonels used a 9-0 run to take a 13-11 lead. EKU led again, 14-13, with 6:19 to play in the first. The Cougars then outscored EKU 12-7 to lead 25-21 at the half.
SIUE built its lead to as many as 16 in the second half when Yelovich scored on a tip-in with 5:52 to play to put the Cougars up 52-36.
SIUE shot 44 percent from the floor, connecting on 11 of 25 shots in both the first and second halves. The Cougars outrebounded EKU 44-38. The Colonels shot just 30 percent (21-69) for the game.
"Tonight it was the little things that helped us get the win," Forrester added. "Road wins are stepping stones. You need to get them in order to compete for championships down the road. This win says a lot about where our program is."
SIUE finishes OVC play with a 7:30 p.m. ET game Saturday at Morehead State.
"(Morehead State) is playing very well and they are very physical," Forrester said. "This will be a good test to see where our program is."