EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - Nikola Bundalo's free throw with 1.4 seconds to play in the second overtime Saturday gave Southern Illinois University Edwardsville men's basketball a 77-76 win over Kennesaw State University at the Vadalabene Center.
"It is such a good win for (the guys)," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "I'm so happy for them."
Cornelius Chatt converted a three-point play, making a free throw after a layup and a foul, with 39 seconds to play in the second overtime to put SIUE up 76-73. Kennesaw State's Kelvin McConnell answered with a three-pointer with 12 seconds left to tie the score at 76-76. Following a timeout, the Cougars got the ball to Bundalo underneath the basket. Bundalo went up for a dunk and was fouled by the Owls' Aaron Anderson to set up the free throw. After making the first, Bundalo intentionally missed the second. Spencer Dixon rebounded for KSU, but his last-second shot from half court missed.
The win is the first-ever home victory for the Cougars over a true Division I opponent.
A game that featured nine lead changes and 12 ties was tied 64-64 following regulation. The two teams were knotted at 70-70 following the first extra period. SIUE improves to 2-9 with the victory, which snapped a six-game losing streak. Kennesaw State has now dropped six consecutive games and falls to 2-6 with the loss.
Freshman Michael Messer paced three Cougars in double figures. Messer poured in a career-high 24 points while adding eight rebounds and five assists in a team-high 46 minutes of work.
"He was doing some really good things out there," Forrester said. "He shot well from three-point range tonight. He's been working hard on that." Chatt scored 14 points and Anthony Mitchell added a career-high 11 points. Both added five rebounds.
Mitchell grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds at the beginning of the second overtime period. The first rebounds resulted in a foul and a made free throw, and the second in a putback basket.
"In crunch-time he was getting to the boards," Forrester said of Mitchell.
Bundalo scored five for SIUE and pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds.
Both SIUE and Kennesaw State finished with 43 rebounds for the game. The Cougars' defense surrendered just eight offensive rebounds to the Owls. "We did a heck of a job on the defensive glass tonight," Forrester said.
It was the second consecutive overtime game at home for the Cougars, who previously hadn't played an overtime game since 2008. Saturday's game was the first double-overtime game for SIUE since January of 2002, a home loss to Wisconsin-Parkside. It is the first overtime victory for SIUE since an NCAA tournament win over Southern Indiana in March 2006.
SIUE travels to Bloomington, Ind., Friday to begin the Las Vegas Classic presented by IBN Sports. The Cougars will also play at Northern Iowa before finishing the tournament with two games in Las Vegas. Friday's game against the Hoosiers tips at 6 p.m. CT.