EDWADSVILLE, Ill. – Michael Messer's reverse layup attempt rolled off the front of the rim as time expired Saturday, allowing Central Michigan to escape with a 65-64 win over SIUE in men's basketball at Vadalabene Center.
"This was a tough one to swallow because we didn't execute down the stretch," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "We gave up too many offensive rebounds, and we didn't do a great job of keeping guys in front of us without fouling."
Maurice Wiltz scored a career-high 17 points for the Cougars, who fell to 2-7 with the loss. Wiltz connected on 6 of 8 shots from the field, including a personal-best five three-pointers. The junior buried a three-pointer from the top of the key with 17 seconds to play to put SIUE in front 64-63.
"I thought (Maurice) really stepped it up tonight," Forrester said.
Central Michigan's Chris Fowler drove to the basket and rolled in a layup with just six seconds to play to put the CMU up 65-64.
On the ensuing possession Cameron Craig tried a three-pointer with time running out. His attempt came up short, but Messer was there for the final attempt. The two teams exchanged leads 14 times during the night, including five times in the game's final 54 seconds.
Messer finished with 11 points and six rebounds for the Cougars. Forrester lauded the junior's performance.
"I was proud of how Messer stepped up," Forrester said. "He did some nice things tonight."
Fowler scored a game-high 23 points, including the last five points of the game, for Central Michigan, which improved to 6-3 with its fourth straight win. Fowler was 10 for 14 from the field. He was the only Central Michigan player to score in double figures.
Overall, the Chippewas outrebounded SIUE 39-31 and controlled the offensive glass, grabbing 18 offensive boards and scoring 16 second chance points.
"We have to do the tough things to win, and rebounding is one of those tough things," Forrester added.
Central Michigan built its lead to as many as six at one point in the first half, but the Cougars held a 29-27 edge at the break. Neither team led by more than three at any point in the second period.
"We just have to keep working both from a coaching standpoint and from the players' standpoint," Forrester said. "We have to do a better job of doing the things that allow us to control a game like this."
SIUE now heads back on the road for three straight games away from Edwardsville. The Cougars will travel to Fort Wayne, Ind., for a 6 p.m. central time game Saturday with the Mastodons.