EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Despite an SIUE Division I record 40 points from Burak Eslik, SIUE men's basketball dropped a 70-67 overtime heart-breaker to Morehead State Thursday night at Vadalabene Center.
SIUE has lost seven consecutive games and is now 3-14 overall and 0-5 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Morehead State improved to 9-7 overall and 3-1 in the OVC.
After finishing regulation time at a 62-all tie, the Cougars struck first with Eslik knocking down a pair of free throws. Morehead State tied the game on a running layup from Anthony Elechi. Carlos Anderson answered for the Cougars with a three-pointer from the right corner to move SIUE in front 67-64.
It was 67-66 when Anderson got a look from the left corner. After burying another three-pointer it appeared the Cougars had taken a 70-66 lead with 2:21 to play. After an official review, referees ruled that the shot clock had expired before Anderson got the shot off. The Eagles scored the final four points of the game for the win.
"Our guys put together a 40-minute game from start to finish," SIUE Head Coach Jon Harris said. "We're continuing to take steps even though our record may not show that. You never feel good about a loss, but we feel positive about the way we're growing."
Eslik knocked down his first seven three-point attempts and had 22 points in the game's first 6:40. He scored 28 of SIUE's 35 first-half points en route to the record-setting night. Only four previous players had scored 30 or more points in a game since SIUE transitioned to NCAA Division I for the 2008-09 season.
"Burak did some great things," Harris said. "He let the game come to him and didn't force any shots. His teammates did a good job of finding him."
Eslik finished the game 12 for 22 from the field, including 7 for 11 from three-point range. He added nine points at the free throw line.
"My teammates did a great job of finding me," Eslik said. "After the first couple of shots, I was feeling good and kept doing what I was doing."
Eslik's seventh three-pointer came at 13:30 and ballooned the Cougars' lead to 17 (22-5). The Eagles came back, and SIUE led 35-30 at the break. Morehead State then scored the first five points of the second half and 11 of the first 13 to lead 41-37 with 14:33 to play.
In a half where the lead changed hands five times and the score was tied six times, neither team built its lead to greater than four points.
"I was proud of their effort," Harris said of his team. "The energy was there, and they were focused on both ends of the floor."
Anderson scored 13 points for the Cougars, including 11 in the second half. He was the SIUE only player aside from Eslik to finish in double figures in scoring.
Elechi led Morehead State with 18 points, all coming in the second half. Lamontray Harris scored 12 points and Malik Maitland scored 11, including going 6 for 6 from the free throw line in the second period.
SIUE remains home to face Eastern Kentucky Saturday afternoon. Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. and the game can be seen on FOX Sports Midwest.