LAS VEGAS – SIUE men's basketball got a balanced scoring effort Sunday as the Cougars wrapped up a four-game, seven-day road trip with an 82-72 win over Northern Colorado to close out the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic at Orleans Arena.
SIUE improved to 3-8 with the win. Northern Colorado fell to 6-5.
"That's a huge win for the program," SIUE Head Coach Jon Harris said. "That could have easily gone the other way. We have had so much adversity and so many things not go our way. We played that game start to finish. Northern Colorado is a really good team and our guys responded."
Tyresse Williford led the way with 25 points to tie his career high. He was 6-15 shooting and knocked down 10 of 14 free throws. David McFarland scored 17 points and has scored in double figures in all four games in the tournament. Brandon Jackson and Christian Ellis each added 11 points. Cameron Williams scored nine points and grabbed a career-high eight rebounds.
"The guys are starting to trust," Harris added. "It takes time. These guys trust each other and they stayed the course and they fought for the guy next to them. That's why they are walking away with a win."
McFarland averaged 19.5 points in four tournament games and was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Northern Colorado got 28 points from leading scorer Jordan Davis, who was 13-14 from the free throw line and 6-15 from the field.
SIUE led 38-35 at the break, but Northern Colorado pulled in front in the second half. The Bears led by as many as nine points when a Trent Harris three-pointer made it 58-49 with 13:03 to play. A 6-0 SIUE lead allowed the Cougars back into the game.
The teams traded leads several times before the Cougars went on top for good on a pair of Williford free throws put SIUE up 70-69 with 2:40 left.
"They never let up," Harris said of his team. "It is a resilient group. It is a strong locker room and that's why we won the game."
SIUE outrebounded Northern Colorado 37-30 and won the turnover battle by forcing 17 from the Bears while committing just 10 of their own.
"It's the second game in a row we won the 'war stats.'" Harris said. "We're starting to figure it out."
SIUE is off until December 30 when they face Missouri S&T at 5 p.m. It is the second game of a doubleheader with the women's team which faces McKendree at 2 p.m.