CANCUN, Mexico - For the second day in a row, SIUE men's basketball failed to hold a second half lead, falling Wednesday to Hampton 68-64 in the final game, for both teams, in the Cancun Challenge.
"Our guys are disappointed right now, like I am," Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "We just didn't close it out."
The Cougars, now 0-4, held a 14-point lead three different times during the second half and led for 17:24 in the second half.
Hampton's Christopher Tolson tied the score at 62 with a three-pointer with 2:36 left before a Jasper Williams layup with 1:47 to play put Hampton up for good at 64-62. Following a steal, Derian Shaffer converted a tip-in after three unsuccessful tries to make it 64-62 with just four seconds remaining. SIUE elected to foul on the ensuing inbounds play and Darrion Pellum hit both free throws for the final margin.
Pellum led all scorers with 24 points in the win for Hampton, now 2-2.
"Hampton made some big shots," Forrester said. "But it came down to offensive rebounds. We gave up 17 and it costs us."
Hampton won the rebounding battle overall, outrebounding SIUE 41-27.
SIUE held a nine-point advantage (32-23) at half thanks to a second consecutive game of hot first half shooting. SIUE shot 50 percent (13-26) from the floor in the first half. The Cougars took a 14-11 lead on a three-pointer from Kris Davis with 12:20 to play and didn't trail again in the half.
"That's a game you have to close out," Forrester added. "Something we have to work at is to learn to play two halves. We've had better starts, but now we have to learn to close it out."
For the game, the Cougars shot 44.6 percent (25-56). They were 10-22 (45.5 percent) from three-point range.
Jerome Jones led the way for SIUE for the second consecutive game. Jones, a junior transfer, scored 13 on five of 11 shooting. He added a team-high seven rebounds. Davis and Mark Yelovich each scored 10 in the losing effort. Yelovich has scored in double figures in all four games this year for SIUE.
The Cougars open the home season Wed., Nov. 30 against Robert Morris (Springfield). Tip time at the Vadalabene Center is 7 p.m.