EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - Playing its first conference game as a Division I institution, SIUE men's basketball upset Tennessee Tech 83-68 Thursday in the Ohio Valley Conference opener for both teams.
"You have to give credit to our players," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "I thought they played very hard and executed the game plan.
The win is the first over a Division I team this season and the first win over an OVC opponent since a win at Southeast Missouri Dec. 31, 2008.
"Our guys played with some heart, with some aggressiveness, and played as a team," Forrester added.
Jerome Jones led the way with 20 points while freshman Kris Davis added 19 points. Davis was 6 of 12 from the field, including 5 of 6 from three-point range. The Cougar freshman hit the first five three-pointers he took in the game. Mark Yelovich turned in the third double-double of his career with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Corey Wickware scored 12. Wickware added six rebounds, a career-high nine assists and did not turn the ball over.
"Corey did a tremendous job tonight making plays," Forrester said.
SIUE, now 3-7 overall and 1-0 in the OVC, rebounded from a slow start. The Golden Eagles got a three-pointer from Jud Dillard to go up 9-2 with 17:01 left in the first. TTU stretched the lead to eight points more than six minutes into the game when Zac Swansey hit a layup to make it 14-6. Dillard led all scorers with 24 points. Swansey added 10 points for the Eagles.
Davis' first three-pointer of the night brought the Cougars within three at 18-15 with 9:50 in the first half. After a Tennessee Tech free throw extended the lead to four, Davis buried his second triple to make it 19-18 with 9:17 left. SIUE took its first lead of the game on a steal and layup by Reggie Reed which made it 22-21 Cougars with 6:51 left in the half. Reed set career highs with six points, three rebounds, and three assists.
"Reggie has been doing a great job of late," Forrester said. "The last couple of days he has been great in practice. I thought he did a tremendous job. He gave us a spark on both ends of the floor."
The Cougars never trailed again and pushed the advantage to 44-33 at the break, thanks in part to shooting 60 percent (18-30) from the field in the half.
The Golden Eagles, now 8-6 overall and 0-1 in the OVC, got as close as six twice during the second half. Zac Bailey hit pair of free throws to cut the lead to 64-58 with 5:25 to play. Bailey finished with 16 points.
SIUE outscored Tech 19-10 over the final five-plus minutes for the final margin.
For the game, the Cougars shot 51.7 percent (30-58) from the floor. Defensively SIUE held TTU to just 34.8 percent from the field, including 28.6 percent (10-35) in the second half. The Cougars held the OVC's leading scorer, Kevin Murphy, to just four points on 1-of-16 shooting. Murphy was averaging 20 points per game at the start of the night.
The Cougars next welcome Jacksonville State to Edwardsville Saturday in a 3:30 p.m. game. It will shown live on KPLR-TV Channel 11 in St. Louis.
"Overall, I thought our guys played as a team and competed hard," Forrester said. "They are well deserving of this win and hopefully we can follow that up by winning again on Saturday."