EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - SIUE rode a 56.1 percent shooting performance to a come-from-behind win Saturday, defeating Eastern Kentucky 80-74 in Ohio Valley Conference men's basketball at the Vadalabene Center.
"It was a great week for us," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "Our guys played some defense and executed what we were trying to do. We have to continue to keep working and working on our weaknesses."
SIUE, now 7-14 overall and 5-7 in the OVC, connected on 23 of 41 shots, including 9 of 15 from beyond the three-point arc. The 56.1 percent is the best offensive performance by the Cougars at home this season. The three-point percentage is the second-highest this season by SIUE.
Corey Wickware led all scorers with a season-high 23 points. Wickware was 6 of 10 from the field, including 4 of 7 from three-point range. Mark Yelovich scored 20 points for the second consecutive game. Yelovich was 6-11 from the floor.
"Those guys really stepped it up when we needed some buckets, Forrester said. "They were huge tonight for us."
"Corey made some big shots down the stretch and Mark was pretty good tonight for us as far as scoring some tough buckets," Forrester added. "(Mark) was scoring mostly inside, where he is doing a tremendous job."
Eastern Kentucky, now 13-12 overall and 6-6 in the OVC, jumped on top early and led by as many as four points after a layup by Joshua Jones with 3:35 to play in the first half. The Colonels led 33-32 at the break.
A Yelovich free throw tied the score, 33-33, just 15 seconds in the second half, but a quick 6-0 EKU run put the Colonels up six at 39-33 with 17:59 left. The six-point advantage was the largest of the night for EKU. Mike DiNunno, who finished with 20 points to lead EKU, scored four of the six points.
The teams battled the next seven minutes, with the Cougars tying the score twice. EKU led 51-50 when Wickware went to the free-throw line with 10:52 left. The senior hit both shots to give SIUE the lead for the first time in the second half.
EKU would tie the score once more at 57-57 on free throws by DiNunno with 8:46 left. Wickware hit two more free throws to put SIUE up for good 59-57 with 7:33 left. The Cougars led from that point.
SIUE extended its lead to as many as 10 on a Yelovich jumper with 2:45 to play that made it 71-61. SIUE hit seven of nine free throws in the game's final 55 seconds to close out the win.
The Cougars take a week off before hosting Southeast Missouri Sat., Feb. 11.
"I am very happy and very proud of the job the team has done this week," Forrester said.