VALPARAISO, Ind. – Valparaiso outlasted SIUE men's basketball Wednesday, defeating the Cougars 75-70 in overtime at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
The Cougars dropped to 0-3. Valparaiso improved to 3-2.
"This was our best game of the season to this point," SIUE Head Coach Jon Harris said. "I wish we had a different result for the guys. We have to stay the course, stay encouraged and continue to push."
The Cougars were led by junior transfer Tyresse Williford and true freshman Cameron Williams, who both enjoyed career nights. Williford led all scorers with 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Williams went for 22 points on 10-of-18 shooting.
"Those guys did some good things," Harris said. "They were aggressive. It was the first road game for both of those guys and they stepped up."
For the game, SIUE hit 46 percent (29-63) of its shots from the field and outrebounded Valpo 39-36. After Valparaiso tied the score at 68, the Cougars had 13 seconds left with a chance to win it, but couldn't find more than a long three-point attempt before regulation ended.
"We did some really good things on both ends," Harris said. "I wish we could have executed better down the stretch."
The Cougars also couldn't overcome a large difference in free throws. Valparaiso was 21-33 from the free throw line. SIUE was 8-15.
"They outshot us by 18 on free throws and that's the difference in the game far and away," Harris said.
Valparaiso had five players score in double figures led by Bakari Evelyn's 16 points. Everlyn was 5 for 8 from the floor and 5 for 6 at the free throw line.
"We battled. It's never easy to win on the road," Harris added. "If we play with that mindset in this type of environment against this type of opponent we'll be fine."
The Cougars had as much as a seven-point lead in the first half and led by two (33-31) at the break despite early foul trouble.
"David (McFarland) got in foul trouble and never got in rhythm," Harris said. "We had three starters with two fouls at the end of the first half and we stayed there and found a way to get a two-point lead."
SIUE will return home to face Incarnate Word Sunday at Vadalabene Center. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.
"We're excited to get back in front of our fans, who have been tremendous this season," Harris said. "We expect a good crowd on Sunday. These guys will bounce back and we'll be ready to go."