CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - Five players scored in double figures Thursday night to lead Southeast Missouri to a 85-68 win over SIUE in Ohio Valley Conference men's basketball.
The Redhawks, now 9-8 overall, used a 23-8 run over the game's final 8:40 to move into second place in the OVC with a 4-1 conference record.
"They took over because we broke down defensively," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "We didn't stick to the game plan and our defensive philosophy."
"We weren't mentally tough down the stretch," Forrester added.
SIUE, now 5-9 overall and 3-2 in the OVC, won the opening tip, got a three-point basket from Jerome Jones and led 3-0 to start the game. The Cougars led for the majority of the first half, building their lead to as many as seven, when Jones converted a layup and a foul shot to make it 22-15 with 12:03 left in the half.
Jones led four Cougar players in double figures with 19 points, one off his career high. Kris Davis scored 15, but just two in the second half. Mark Yelovich added 13 points, with 11 coming after halftime. Derian Shaffer scored 10 of his 12 in the second half and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
"(Derian) did a really good job tonight," Forrester said. "He brings a lot of energy and is doing better inside."
Yelovich is now 14th on the school's career scoring list and has 990 career points.
SEMO re-gained the lead with a pair of free throws from Leon Powell with 4:40 left in the period. It was a four-point Redhawks lead (43-39) when Yelovich missed a jumper with 15 seconds to play in the half. Marland Smith grabbed the rebound for the Redhawks, and played the ball ahead to Logan Nutt who then buried a three-pointer at the buzzer to put SEMO up 46-39 at the break.
The Redhawks scored the first seven points in the second half to extend the lead to 50-39 with 18:45 left in the game, when the Cougars went on a tear.
SIUE used a 16-5 run over the next 7:47, capped off by a layin from Shaffer, to even the score at 55. Nick Niemczyk broke the tie with a jumper to make it 57-55, and the Redhawks never trailed again.
SIUE turned the ball over just 12 times Thursday, but three of them came during the Redhawks final push.
"We were careless and panicked down the stretch," Forrester said. "We just didn't have the toughness I wanted."
Smith paced SEMO with 20 points. Niemczyk scored 17 Michael Porter scored 14 points. Leon Powell scored 13 and led the Redhawks with seven rebounds. Tyler Stone added 10 points.
"Give credit to SEMO," Forrester said. "They executed and played well tonight."
SEMO shot 56.1 percent from the floor (32-57) for the game, and 59 percent (13-22) for the second half alone. SIUE shot just 38.7 percent (24-62) for the game. The Cougars were 13-28 (46.4 percent) in the first half.
"Even in the first half when we were making shots... some of our made shots I didn't like because they weren't smart," Forrester added. "They were falling in the first half, but we need to be smarter on the offensive end."
SIUE remains on the road for a Saturday game at Tennessee State in Nashville, Tenn. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. It is the second game of a double header with the women's teams, who meet at 5:30 p.m.
"We only have one day to prepare, which means not much practice time for us," Forrester said. "We need to get better for Saturday."