CHICAGO - Corey Wickware saved his best for last. Playing in his final game as a Cougar, the senior scored a career-high 26 points, including six three-pointers, Wednesday night to lead SIUE to an 81-70 victory on the road at Chicago State.
Wickware finished 7 of 9 from the field and 6 of 8 from three-point range. The 26 points equaled his production from an overtime win last season vs. South Dakota. The six three-pointers tied his career high, set last season vs. Longwood.
The Cougars finished the season 10-17 overall, including a 3-8 mark in true road games. The 10 wins, ties SIUE previous high since moving to Division I. The Cougars also won 10 games during the 2008-2009 season, but just three of the wins came against true Division I opponents. This season SIUE defeated eight DI opponents. The three road wins also the most for SIUE at Division I. SIUE finished the year with three wins in the last four games and was 5-3 in the season's final month.
"I'm very proud of how we completed this year," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "Our guys did a great job all around."
The Cougars started slow. Chicago State, now 4-25, jumped out to an early lead and had built the advantage to 11 points (23-12) with 11:03 to play in the first half.
"I didn't like the way we came out tonight," Forrester said. "I talked before the game about everyone playing 40 minutes."
Wickware, too, started the night slow. He missed his first two attempts from three-point range and had just two points, on a pair of free throws, through the game's first 17-plus minutes.
"I got after him early tonight," Forrester said of Wickware. "He wasn't ready to start. He started shooting well and being really aggressive down the stretch."
His first triple came with 2:55 to play before half and put SIUE up for the first time in the game at 35-34. Following a missed CSU shot, and a defensive rebound Wickware struck again with 1:33 left in the half to make it 38-34. Charles Joy made it 40-34 with a layup with 23 seconds left in the half. On the ensuing possession, Wickware stole the ball from CSU's Clarke Rosenberg the nailed a running 35-footer as the halftime buzzer sounded to put SIUE on top 43-34 at half.
SIUE never trailed in the second half, and extended its lead to as many as 14 (68-54) on a Wickware three-pointer with 6:54 to play.
Mark Yelovich and Kris Davis joined Wickware in double figures. Yelovich scored 20 points on 8 of 15 shooting. It was the fifth time Yelovich has scored at least 20 points this season and the 17th 20-point game of Yelovich's career. He led SIUE with nine rebounds. Davis added 11 points including three three-pointers. He also chipped in a career-best seven rebounds. The freshman guard finished the year with a three-point percentage of .598 (58-97), which would lead the NCAA.
Lee Fisher led four Chicago State players in double figures with 16 points. He added 10 rebounds. Ardarius Simmons scored 15 points. Matt Samuels scored 14. Jeremy Robinson scored 10 rebounds and added a game-high 10 rebounds.
Forrester said he was proud of his team for more than just the performance on the floor.
"These young men have been productive in the classroom and in the community," he said.
Forrester added that while the season is over, there is work to do.
"We continue to build," he said. "We'll be off to find players tomorrow. We have to continue to grow."