LAS VEGAS – SIUE made a furious push in the second half, but fell short, dropping an 85-79 decision to CSUN Saturday to open the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic at Orleans Arena.
SIUE dropped 2-8 with its third consecutive loss. CSUN improved to 4-8.
CSUN led by as many as 19 in the second half, and the Cougars used four players in double figures to stage a comeback.
It was 68-50 CSUN after a three-pointer from Terrell Gomez with 6:58 to play went on a 15-3 run to tighten the game. David McFarland converted a traditional three-point play with 3:57 left in the game.
"It's not from lack of effort," SIUE Head Coach Jon Harris explained.
There are three stats we talk about," Harris added. "They are turnover margin, free throws and rebounds. We won all of three of those categories for the first time all year."
SIUE outrebounded CSUN 42-38, including holding an eight-rebound edge in the second half. The forced 19 turnovers by CSUN, while committing 16 of their own and they landed 17-26 free throws compared to 13-22 for CSUN.
"We don't get a win because we gave them a few too many threes, but the reality is we missed too many shots around the rim," Harris said. "We missed 10-12 layups and that's the difference in a six-point loss."
Despite an advantage of 19-9 in offensive rebounds, the Cougars turned those into just four second-chance points.
"We have to slow ourselves down," Harris said. "Guys are pressing a little bit. That's part of growing up. We're going through a little adversity so we're pressing. We'll grow through that."
Daniel Kinchen scored a season-high 16 points all in the second half. He was 6-12 from the field and 4-7 from three-point range.
"Dan really responded," Harris said. "He only played a handful of minutes in the first half. So 16 points in 15 minutes is good production."
Gomez paced CSUN with 22 points. Lamine Diane scored 21 points and added 11 points for the Matadors.
SIUE will Northern Colorado Sunday afternoon in the consolation game. Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT.
"Players will watch at least a half, get something good to eat, stay hydrated and try to get this win tomorrow," Harris said of the Cougars' preparation.