EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Four players scored in double figures, and SIUE men's basketball shot 58 percent from the field Saturday night en route to an 85-79 upset win over Eastern Kentucky in Ohio Valley Conference action at Vadalabene Center.
Eastern Kentucky, the preseason favorite in the OVC, began the night ranked 19th in the CollegeInsider.com Mid Major Top 25 poll.
"I'm so pleased for our guys," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "I told them in the locker room, 'Feel good that you beat a good team in Eastern Kentucky.' "
SIUE improved to 1-1 in the OVC and 4-11 overall with the win. Eastern Kentucky dropped to 10-5 overall and 1-1 in the OVC following the loss.
The Cougars emerged with the win in a game which featured 11 ties and eight lead changes. SIUE also won despite trailing 42-39 at halftime. It is the first time in eight games this season that the Cougars were victorious after trailing at halftime.
Eight players scored at least five points in the game, and five Cougars players registered at least two assists. The Cougars finished with 16 assists as a team.
"The way Eastern Kentucky plays defense, you have to make multiple passes," Forrester added. "They play team defense. We knew that we had to move the basketball to have a chance at beating them. We had to play very unselfishly.
"It was a team effort tonight. I could mention a bunch of guys that brought great energy," Forrester continued. "Tim Johnson did not play very well in the first half, came out in the second half and did a tremendous job and the same thing with Michael Messer. Ray Lester played very solid for us by rebounding the basketball. Just down the line I thought our guys played a very good game."
Donivine Stewart led SIUE with 15 points. Messer added 13 points. Johnson scored 12, including nine in the second half. Kris Davis finished with 11 points and four assists. Lester scored six points had hauled in a career-high 10 rebounds, including six in the second half. Keaton Jackson scored nine points and added six rebounds and three blocked shots.
The Colonels led by as many as seven in the game. A Maurice Wiltz three-pointer with 9:06 to play in the game pushed SIUE in front 63-62. The Cougars never trailed again. SIUE built its lead to as many as 11 when Davis connected on triple from the left corner to make it 79-68 with 2:33 to play.
Glenn Cosey and Orlando Williams each hit three-pointers in an 11-2 run that pulled the Colonels within two (81-79) with 60 seconds left.
Messer closed out the game for the Cougars with a running layup with 35 seconds to play, a defensive rebound, and a pair of free throws to seal the win.
"We made just a couple of more plays," Forrester said. "These games are games we were losing at the start of the season. Hopefully our guys are learning what it's going to take to win basketball games. No one is going to give us any wins. We have to scratch and claw to come up with the wins."
Defensively, the Cougars held EKU to just five three-pointers and a 29.4 shooting percentage from long range. The Colonels came into the game averaging 9.9 three-pointers a game and were second in the OVC with a 37.8 percentage from beyond the arc.
Cosey led the Colonels with 23 points. Corey Walden added 19 points, while Williams scored 18.
SIUE now heads on the road for OVC games at Jacksonville State Thursday and Tennessee Tech Saturday.