EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - SIUE snapped a season-long six-game losing streak Thursday thanks to a 61-53 victory over visiting Morehead State in Ohio Valley Conference men's basketball.
"Our guys were resilient tonight," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "I thought they fought hard and followed the game plan. They hung in there and made plays."
Mark Yelovich led all players with 20 points, tying his season high. Yelovich connected on 10 of 11 shots from the field. The 10 made baskets also is a season-high and is just one off the junior's career best. He also grabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists.
"Mark had a great game," Forrester said. "He made a lot of shots, but give credit to our players who found him."
Corey Wickware equaled his season high, scoring 19 points. Wickware collected five rebounds and added four assists of his own. Kris Davis was the only other Cougar player to score in double figures. The freshman guard scored 12 points. He was 3 for 4 from three-point range to increase his NCAA-leading three-point percentage to .597.
The Cougars, who improved to 6-14 overall and 4-7 in the OVC, fell behind the Eagles 6-2 before using an 11-3 run to take a 13-9 lead on a Yelovich jumper with 7:49 left in the first half. SIUE extended the lead to seven points twice in the half, the last time after a three-pointer from Wickware made it 24-17 1:49 before the break. SIUE led 24-19 at the half.
The Cougars stretched the lead to 10 points (29-19) following another Wickware triple just 1:12 into the half. Wickware's third three-pointer of the game gave the Cougars their largest lead of the game at 45-32 with 10:34 remaining.
Morehead State, now 12-12 overall and 5-5 in the OVC, wasn't going away. The Cougars led by 11 (49-38) when the Eagles reeled off eight straight points. A Milton Chavis jumper made it 49-46 SIUE with 3:22 left. Drew Kelly cut the lead back to three, at 53-50, with a layup with just 1:45 left. Chavis paced MSU with 16 points and also picked off five rebounds. Kelly scored 10 points and added five rebounds as well.
On the ensuing possession, Wickware drove the right side of the lane before finding Davis in the right corner. Davis buried a three-pointer to put SIUE up 56-50 with 1:06 left. Wickware sank five of six free throw attempts down the stretch to secure the win.
"That was a big three down the stretch to put us up by six points," Forrester said.
The Cougars used 17 assists to shoot 53.8 percent (21-60) from the field. The Cougars were 12 of 15 from the free throw line for 80 percent. It is only the second time this season SIUE has shot 80 percent or better from the stripe. Morehead State was just 35 percent (21-60) from floor and 20 percent (4-20) from beyond the arc.
"We wanted to attack the zone and play inside-out," Forrester added. "Our guys did a great job with that."
The Cougars remain home to host Eastern Kentucky Saturday at 7 p.m.