EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) -The 13th-ranked University of Southern Indiana men’s basketball team opened the new Screaming Eagles Arena with an 82- 63 victory over Kentucky Wesleyan College Monday evening. USI starts the season, 3-0, while KWC opens with a 0-3 mark.
The Eagles’ victory makes Head Coach Rodney Watson the USI all-time leader with 232 wins, surpassing former Head Coach Bruce Pearl, who posted 231 wins between 1992 and 2001.
USI, which has won its last seven match-ups with KWC, had to battle the Panthers through the first 20 minutes and would trail at halftime, 37-31, at the break. The Eagles were led through the first half by junior forward Josh Price, who had nine points on four-of-five from the field and one-of-two from the stripe.
The second half was a different story as the Eagles overcame an eight point deficit, 41-33, with a 30-1 run between 18:16 and 9:55 to post a commanding 63-42 advantage. USI junior forward Emmanuel Little led the run with eight points as the Eagles were a blistering 84.6 percent from the field (11-13) and 80 percent from beyond the arc (4-5) during the surge.
After the run, the Eagles would match their largest lead of the game, 21 points, twice more (67-46 at 8:22; 71-50 at 6:44) before settling for the 82-63 victory.
As a team, USI shot 55.0 percent from the field (33-60) and 36.4 per from beyond the arc (8-22) after shooting just 15.4 percent (2-13) during the opening 20 minutes). The Eagles, who converted on eight-of-13 from the charity stripe, outrebounded the Panthers, 37-30.
Little finished the game with a team-high 22 points and a game-high eight rebounds, while junior guard Braden Fitzjerrells followed with 15 points of his own, 10 in the second half. Junior guard/forward Clayton Hughes and Price rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11 points and 10 points, respectively.
USI continues its three-game homestand Tuesday when it hosts Ohio Valley University for a 7 p.m. contest. OVU is in search of its first win of the season after falling to 0-3 after falling to Davis & Elkins College, 88-83, at home last week.
The Eagles hold a 9-0 all-time record against Ohio Valley University, 5-0 in games at the old Physical Activities Center.
Text Courtesy: USI Athletics