EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (WFIE) - The sixth-seeded University of Southern Indiana men's basketball team saw its second half rally fall short and lost to third-seeded Drury University, 79-72, in the first round of the GLVC Tournament in Edwardsville, Illinois. USI saw its record go to 20-11 overall, while Drury is 21-6.
With the loss, USI will have to wait until Sunday night at 10:30 p.m. to hear whether it will receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional. The NCAA II Men's Basketball Tournament Selection Show will be broadcast live on NCAA.com.
The Screaming Eagles were ranked seventh in the latest NCAA II Midwest Region poll that was released Wednesday. The top eight teams in each of the eight regions will be selected at the conclusion of the respective conference tournaments.
USI senior guard Marcellous Washington (Lexington, Kentucky) was on fire to start the first half, hitting three-straight three-point field goals to help put the Eagles up 11-0 to start the game. The Panthers responded with a 9-0 of their own to pull to within two, 11-9.
The Eagles would re-extend the lead to eight points, 19-11, before the Panthers exploded on 14-2 to run to take the lead, 25-21. USI would rebound offensively in the final minute of the half and went into the intermission down two, 36-34, after Drury's lead grew to as many as seven in the opening 20 minutes.
Drury extended the halftime lead to as many as 14 points, 67-53, with 7:13 to play in the game. USI rallied to with a 10-1 run to cut the deficit to 68-63 on a Washington three-pointer at 5:48. The Eagles closed to within four points twice in the final minute, but that would be as close they would get in the loss.
Individually, Washington and senior forward Julius Rajala (Helsinki, Finland) led the Eagles with a game-high 22 points each. Washington was eight-of-13 from the field and a blistering 6-of-10 from beyond the arc, while Rajala was seven-of-14 from the field and eight-of-nine from the line. Senior forward DayJar Dickson (Washington, D.C) had a team-high eight rebound.
The Eagles, as a team, shot 52.1 percent from the field (25-48), 53.8 percent from the downtown (7-13), and 71.4 percent from the line (15-21).