Feb. 18, 2010
GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Southern Illinois University Edwardsville rolled up a season-high 13 three-pointers and cruised to a 91-76 victory Thursday at North Dakota.
Mark Yelovich pumped in a career-high 34 points for the Cougar men's basketball team, which improved to 4-21. Yelovich's totals included a career-best six three-pointers. It was the most points by a Cougar since Mike Hardiek scored 32 back in the 2006-2007season.
"I thought he was awesome tonight, and he had a lot of guys around him doing good things," said SIUE Coach Lennox Forrester of Yelovich.
SIUE now has little time to prepare before heading to Fullerton, Calif., for its matchup in ESPN Bracketbusters. The Cougars play in the state of California for the first time against a team from California for the first time. SIUE's opponent on Saturday is Cal State-Fullerton, 13-12, at 4 p.m. PT/6 p.m. CT.
The Cougars, 4-21, came out slow Thursday by missing their first four shots from the field but then became a three-point machine. SIUE recorded 10 three-pointers in the first half with five different players hitting from beyond the arc.
It was the most three-pointers by the Cougars since they set the school record last season against Oakland City at the Vadalabene Center.
"The confidence came back for some of the guys," said Forrester. The Cougar head coach said the scoring became a trickle-down effect.
North Dakota, 6-18, finished the game with three players in double figures led by 28 from Travis Bledsoe. Chris Clausen and Patrick Mitchell added 10 each for the Fighting Sioux.
McCleary made a successful return to the court. He missed the last three games and most of the Murray State game on Jan. 27 after a hip injury sidelined him. Along with his 11 points, McCleary turned in seven assists.
Even though the Cougars rolled up the three-pointers in the first half, their aggressiveness on the offensive end wasn't rewarded with a free throw attempt until the second half. North Dakota committed just one foul in the first half.
Free throws more than evened out after SIUE continued its double-digit lead into the second half. SIUE finished the game 22 of 26 from the line while the Fighting Sioux shot 18 of 25 from the line.
SIUE won for the first time at the Betty Engelstad Center. The Cougars lost last season to North Dakota and then dropped a pair of games at the 2009 Spring Thaw Tournament.