Dec. 31, 2011
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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - SIUE converted on six free throws in the final 29 seconds Saturday to seal a 66-61 come-from-behind victory over Jacksonville State to improve to 2-0 in Ohio Valley Conference play.
"It feels pretty good," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "Our guys did not start out very well and played with a lack of energy to start the first half. They fought back and made some tough shots down the stretch."
Jerome Jones hit four free throws and Yelovich hit two in the final half-minute. Corey Wickware buried a three-pointer from the right corner which put SIUE up for good, 58-57, with 2:12 to play in the game. Wickware finished with 11 points.
"Corey hit a big shot in the corner late," Forrester added. "That gave us some hope."
Wickware was one of four Cougars who scored in double figures to push the Cougars to their second consecutive win, and their third in four tries. Jones led the way with 17 points. Yelovich added 15 points and eight rebounds. Kris Davis scored 11.
The Cougars, 4-7 overall, trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half when Nick Cook made it 32-19 Gamecocks with a layup with 5:01 to play before halftime. SIUE proceeded on an 8-3 run to move within eight (35-27) at the break.
SIUE continued the run into the second half. Davis hit a pair of free throws to even the score at 38-38 with 14:46 to play to cap off a 16-6 run. Jones converted a layup with 12:09 to play to give SIUE its first lead at 43-42.
After hitting just 10 of 24 shots (41.7 percent) in the first half, the Cougars made 65 percent (13-20) of their shots in the second half.
"Because of the way our offense it set up, we are going to take what the defense gives us," Forrester said. "Our guys took advantage of that and were aggressive but still patient and made extra passes for guys who were wide open."
"That is what we teach our guy -- to play team basketball," Forrester added.
Cook led the Gamecocks, now 5-10 and 0-2 in the OVC, with 12 points. Ronnie Boggs had 11 points.
SIUE remains home to host Eastern Illinois Wednesday night. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
"They are going to celebrate today but tomorrow at practice it is over and done with and we're on to the next one," Forrester said.