EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - Senior Nikola Bundalo recorded his third career double-double Friday, but it wasn't enough as IPFW defeated Southern Illinois University Edwardsville men's basketball 70-55 in the season opener for both schools.
Bundalo scored 14 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, including nine in the first half. He was 5 of 8 from the floor and 4 of 6 from the free throw line. Bundalo's 14 points moved the 6-10 center into 45th on the career scoring list. He now has 613 points in his Cougar Career.
"Nik did a great job. I give him a lot of credit," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "When we got the ball into him tonight he did a good job of being aggressive and scoring."
Bundalo was one of three Cougars in double figures. Mark Yelovich led SIUE with 15 points and Cornelius Chatt scored 12 in his regular season debut for the Cougars. Chatt was 2 of 8 from three-point range.
IPFW, 1-0, raced to an eight-point lead, going up 10-2 in the first three minutes, and never trailed. The Mastodons led by as many as 18 points following a pair of free throws from Zach Plackemeier with 2:44 to play in the half. The lead was 17 (36-19) at the half.
"The first half just killed us," Forrester said. "We just got off to such a bad start offensively and defensively."
SIUE trimmed the lead to eight points, at 44-36, on a pair of free throws by Michael Messer with 10:27 to play in the game but never got closer than nine points after that point. IPFW scored the last five points of the game, all on free throws.
Corey Wickware, who added nine points, and Messer, who scored five, were the only other Cougars to register a point Friday. Forrester said he'd like that to change.
"I'd like to be a well-balanced team," Forrester said. "We'd like to have five guys on the floor at all times who are threats to score." IPFW outrebounded SIUE 37-34 during the game.
The Cougars will have little time to rest. SIUE meets Illinois State Sunday afternoon in Normal. Forrester said it won't be easy.
"This is their season-opener so I know they're going to be ready to roll," Forrester said. "We have to be well-rested and mentally ready to compete."
Tip-off with the Redbirds is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. and will be carried live on WSIE FM 88.7.