EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - SIUE men's basketball slipped behind early Wednesday night and couldn't recover, losing 73-59 to Eastern Illinois at the Vadalabene Center.
"I thought our guys came out very lethargic," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "We just didn't have that fight tonight that I have seen us have in the last two conference games."
"I wasn't very pleased with how we started the basketball game and how we played pretty much the entire game," Forrester continued.
Hampered by poor shooting in the first half, the Cougars never led in the game. SIUE, now 4-8 overall and 2-1 in the Ohio Valley Conference, hit just 27.8 percent (5 -18) of its shots in the first period. The Cougars missed all eight three-point attempts during the period and trailed by 13 points (34-21) at the break.
"I thought we took some bad shots and did not move the ball as well as we had been doing," Forrester said.
The numbers improved dramatically for the Cougars in the second half. SIUE made 50 percent (14-28) of its shots from the field in the half, including making 5 of 7 three-point attempts.
Eastern Illinois, now 7-6 overall and 1-1 in the OVC, was even better. The Panthers hit 58.3 percent (14-24) of their attempts from the floor in the second half. For the game the Panthers were 25 of 52 (48.1 percent). EIU also converted 18 free throws in 20 attempts.
Joey Miller paced the Panthers with 24 points. Alfonzo McKinnie added 17 points and seven rebounds. Jeremy Granger had 14 points and L.C. Doss finished with 13 points. Zavier Sanders had 13 rebounds to lead the way for EIU, which outrebounded SIUE 37-23.
Kris Davis turned his fourth consecutive double-digit scoring effort to lead SIUE with 14 points. Following a first half in which he played just six minutes because of fouls, Mark Yelovich bounced back to score 12 points. It is the 10th time this season the junior has scored in double figures. Yelovich is now 15th on the all-time scoring list with 959 career points. Jerome Jones added 11 for the Cougars.
"Mark couldn't play as aggressive as he could have offensively because of those fouls," Forrester said. "He was probably our bright spot along with Kris."
The Cougars now go on the road for the first time in OVC play with a 6 p.m. game Saturday at UT Martin.