NORMAL, Ill.- Southern Illinois University Edwardsville dropped a 92-64 decision at Illinois State University Sunday afternoon. Junior guard Corey Wickware poured in a career-best 25 points, including 20 in the first half but was one of just two players to crack double-figures for the under-manned Cougars.
Wickware hit his first six shots and finished the game 8 of 16 from the floor, including going 5 of 12 from three-point range. He was 4 of 5 at the free throw line.
"Corey had a good day," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "He was aggressive and taking good shots."
Playing without key players due to injuries, SIUE simply couldn't match up with the Redbirds, who won their fourth consecutive season opener. The 92 scored by Illinois State were its most scored in a season-opener since 1997.
Illinois State exploited the Cougars' lack of depth. The Redbirds' bench outscored that of the Cougars 50-13.
"I'm not one to make excuses," Forrester added. "The effort was there. One thing I preach is never give up, never quit." Illinois State, 1-0, raced out to a 14-2 lead before the first media timeout.
In a sign of things to come, Wickware led the Cougars back into the game. Wickware scored all 10 points in a 10-4 run that cut the lead to six points, 18-12, with 11:50 to play in the first.
SIUE would twice cut the Redbird lead to five points, the last time coming with 7:05 to play in the first half on a layup by Wickware.
Illinois State led 46-33 at halftime and led by as many 33 points.
Jackie Carmichael and Blake Mishler scored 18 points each to lead Illinois State. Cornelius Chatt was the only other Cougar to score in double figures. Chatt scored 12 points, including a pair of three-pointers.
"When you get beat by 28 it's hard to see," Forrester said. "But there were some good things there today. We can't lose focus. We have to get better every day. SIUE will continue the road swing, playing a Wednesday game at Eastern Kentucky. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m.CT in Richmond, Ky.