HILLSDALE, MI. (WFIE) - The 13th-ranked University of Southern Indiana men’s basketball team raced out to a big lead and cruised to an 83-56 victory over Malone University, Saturday evening, in the G-MAC/GLVC Crossover in Hillsdale, Michigan. USI starts the season, 2-0, while Malone opens with a 1-1 mark.
The Eagles’ victory ties Head Coach Rodney Watson with former USI Head Coach Bruce Pearl for the all-time lead in victories at 231. Watson is 231-74 in 10-plus seasons (2009-Present), while Pearl was 231-46 in nine seasons (1992-2001).
USI had command of the game through nearly the all of the opening half after trailing, 4-2 and 6-5. USI senior guard Joe Laravie hit a bomb from downtown to put the Eagles up, 8-6, as the Eagles never looked back.
The Eagles continued to build its lead in the opening 20 minutes, extending the margin to 17 points, 36-19, with 4:06 remaining before halftime when junior guard Clayton Hughes hit a three-point field goal. USI would finish the opening half with a 16-point, 42-26 lead by the intermission.
Laravie and junior forward Emmanuel Little with 12 points each paced the Eagles, who shot 66.7 percent from the field (18-27).
After a slow start to the second half, the Eagles flew out to a 62-30 lead on an 18-4 run that was capped off by a three-point barrage by sophomore forward Glen Rouch. Rouch scored all nine of his points on the three-straight three-point bombs in a span of two minutes.
USI would extend the lead all the way to 38 points, 74-36, with 7:14 to play in the game when Laravie hit his third three-point field goal of the game. The Eagle cruised the rest of the way for the 83-56 victory.
As a team, USI shot 53.6 percent from the field (30-56), 58.8 percent from beyond the arc (10-17), and 92.9 percent from the stripe (13-14). The Eagles also won the battle on the glass, 39-29.
For the second-straight game, Laravie and Little led the Eagles in scoring with 17 points each. Laravie was a blistering seven-of-10 from the field and three-of-five from beyond the arc, while Little was eight-of-16 from the field and one-of-two from the stripe.
USI junior forward Josh Price came off the bench to produce a double-double with 16 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Price was three-of-four from the field and made Pioneers pay at the stripe, going 10-of-10.
USI opens the 2019-20 home schedule and the new Screaming Eagles Arena November 18 when the Eagles host long-time rival Kentucky Wesleyan College for a 7 p.m. tipoff. The Panthers were 10-16 last season and open the 2019-20 campaign Wednesday versus Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Eagles trail the all-time series with the Panthers, 49-42, but have won the last six contests. USI took the last meeting in the Small College Basketball Classic in 2017-18, 88-75, at the Ford Center behind the 17-point, 10-rebound performance by Little.