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Cougars Corral Coyotes in Overtime

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - Southern Illinois University Edwardsville connected on 14 of 16 free throws in overtime Saturday night to defeat South Dakota 94-85 in men's basketball at the Vadalabene Center.

The Cougars, 5-13, played their third consecutive overtime game at home and won the second consecutive of those games. The three overtime games this season ties the 1997-98 season for the most overtime games in a single-season. The three overtime games also are the most in a single season at the Vadalabene Center.

"We played with excitement and energy tonight," SIUE Coach Lennox Forrester said. "That first overtime game this year (Middle Tennessee) came back on us to tie it and then won. The last two we have come back, and we have won." Forrester stressed the importance of hitting the free throw in overtime.

"A big key was making free throws tonight," Forrester continued. "When you're up and they're going to put you on the line, that's big."

Saturday's game, which featured 22 lead changes and seven ties, went to overtime tied at 75. South Dakota held a 74-73 lead with 14.5 seconds remaining. Michael Messer picked off a defensive rebound but was fouled by USD's Charlie Westbrook. Messer hit both free throws to move SIUE in front 75-74.On the ensuing possession, the Coyotes' Jake Thomas missed a long three-point attempt. Thomas was fouled on the rebound with 4.7 seconds left and hit one of two free throws to force the extra time.

Corey Wickware poured in a career-high 26 points to lead four Cougars in double figures. He was a perfect 14 of 14 at the free throw line, including hitting all eight of his attempts in the overtime period. Wickware was 4 of 12 from the floor, hitting four three-pointers. He added five assists for SIUE, which finished with a season-best 24 helpers.

Cornelius Chatt scored 21 points for SIUE. Chatt was 7 of 12 from the field and 4 of 7 from three-point range. Michael Messer added 16 points and four assists. Kevin Stineman scored 12 points, grabbed a career-high seven rebounds and dished out a season-high six assists.

The Cougars shot 43.3 percent (29-67) from the floor. They were 26 of 35 from the free throw line for a season-high 74.3 percent. After scoring a season-low 46 points in each of the last two games, the 94 points scored by SIUE is a season-high.

Westbrook led South Dakota with 24 points. Thomas added 22. Steve Tecker and Louie Krogman each scored 10 for the Coyotes, 8-9.

The Coyotes shot 42.5 percent (31-73) from the field, and outrebounded SIUE 48-41. South Dakota, which entered the game hitting 37 percent of its three-point attempts, was just 8 of 29 for 27.6 percent Saturday night.

"They came in shooting extremely well," Forrester said. "I told our guys we have to play defense for 40 minutes or however long it was going to take. I didn't just say 40 minutes."

The Cougars will next travel to Fort Wayne, Ind., for a Tuesday night game at IPFW. Game time is 7 p.m. CT.

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