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Turnovers Hurt Cougars at EKU

RICHMOND, Ky.- Eastern Kentucky University took advantage of 18 turnovers Wednesday night and defeated Southern Illinois University Edwardsville 81-65 in men's basketball at Mc Brayer Arena on the EKU Campus.

The Colonels scored 14 points off turnovers in the game.

"We were very sloppy and we gave them a lot of points," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forester said. "We weren't strong with the basketball."

EKU got off to a quick start, taking a 13-4 lead, but the Cougars were undeterred.

SIUE, 0-3, battled back thanks to hot shooting in the first half. The Cougars were 13 of 25 from the floor (52 percent) in the first period. They were nearly as good from three-point range, hitting 5 of 10 attempts from beyond the arc. The Cougars pulled even with EKU at 24-24 on a three-pointer from Corey Wickware with 6:24 to play in the half.

Following a Kevin Stineman steal, Nikola Bundalo drew a foul then hit a pair of free throws to give SIUE its first lead this season at 26-24.

Had it not been for subpar free-throw shooting, SIUE may have led at half. But thanks in part to a 2 of 9 performance from line in first half, the Cougars trailed 36-33 at the break.

EKU, 2-2, again started quickly in the second half. Jeff Daniel hit a three-pointer just 20 seconds into the half to push the Colonels' lead to six.

SIUE got jumpers from Nikola Bundalo and Michael Messer to cut the lead to two points. A Wickware layup with 17:46 to go tied the game again, at 42, but EKU answered with an 8-0 run and led 50-42 with 15:39 left. The Colonels extended the lead to 12 before the Cougars answered again.

Wickware led the Cougars in scoring, for the second consecutive game, with 16 points. He has scored in double figures in his first three games as a Cougar. Bundalo turned in 15 for SIUE and Messer scored 11, marking his first career game in double figures.

"Mike was pretty solid," Forrester said. "He made some plays. No I hope he can continue to build."

SIUE got as close as seven points, at 63-56 after two free throws from Wickware with 7:55 left. The colonels then went on a 10-2 run to lead by 15 at 73-58 with 4:34 to play.

The outside shooting cooled considerably for the Cougars in the second half, where they managed just 2 of 15 shots from outside the arc.

"We were doing some good things early," Forrester said. "We got away from it and took too many poor shots."

SIUE returns home to host MacMurray Saturday at the Vadalabene Center. Tip is set for 7:05 p.m.

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