SAN ANTONIO, Texas – SIUE men's basketball erased an 11-point second-half deficit to score a 57-55 win on the road Saturday afternoon at Incarnate Word.
The Cougars improved to 2-2 overall and 1-1 on the road. UIW dropped to 1-3.
Mike Adewunmi knocked down a pair of free throws with less than two seconds to play to seal the win for the Cougars.
"Our best asset is our togetherness," SIUE Head Coach Brian Barone said. "Before the game, I told them, 'Regardless of what happens, if we stick together we can come out and win this game.' Then we started executing and we started believing and more importantly we were believing in each other."
SIUE opened up a 7-0 lead over the first two and a half minutes but UIW came back and eventually gained its first lead at 12-11 at the 12:17 mark in the first. The teams traded leads from then until the Cardinals took the lead in the final five minutes of the half. Incarnate Word led 31-26 at halftime.
The Cougars chipped away a couple of times in the second half, but each time UIW would answer and began to extend its lead. The Cardinals had their largest lead of the game at 48-37 after a Morgan Taylor layup with 10:39 to play. This time, SIUE had the answer.
A 3-pointer by Adewunmi kicked off a 9-0 run, and after a 3-pointer by Iziah James, the Cougars had pulled within two with 8:27 to play.
"We did a great job making some subtle adjustments at halftime and began to execute in the second half," Barone said.
SIUE didn't pull even with UIW until two free throws from Adewunmi, a steal by Tyresse Williford and a layup by Kenyon Duling knotted the score at 55 with 2:11 to play. It stayed tied until Adewunmi was fouled fighting for an offensive rebound. He hit the first, then attempted to glance the second shot off the rim, allowing the clock to run out, but his shot rattled in instead. Augustine Ene's three point attempt from near half court didn't find them the rim and allowed SIUE the win.
Adewunmi led SIUE with 12 points, all of which came in the second half. He finished a rebound shy of his second consecutive double-double.
"He wasn't great in the first half and I challenged him," Barone said or Adewunmi. "For him to come in here and win the way he did and knock down the free throws is big. You know he has it going on when he is trying to miss the last free throw and it still goes in."
Cam Williams added nine points in the Cougar win. Keaston Willis scored 14 points for Incarnate Word, while Vincent Miszkiewicz scored 12 points and added 12 rebounds.
Incarnate Word knocked down 20-53 shots (37.7 percent), including nine of 24 3-point attempts. SIUE was 22-61 (36.1 percent) and just 5-18 (27.8 percent) from 3-point range. SIUE has attempted more shots than its opponents in each of the four games this year.
"We have to find a way to get things done," Barone added. "It's the fact that we stayed with our belief. We found a way to execute a little bit more and believed a little bit more."
The Cougars stay on the road to face South Dakota of the Summit League Monday night in Vermillion, South Dakota.
"We're going to experience a little South Dakota and we're going to do it together," Barone said.