USI Men’s basketball picks up huge road win at SIU-Edwardsville

USI Basketball
USI Basketball(WFIE)
Published: Jan. 21, 2023 at 11:29 PM CST
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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (WFIE) - University of Southern Indiana Men’s Basketball had to make a defense stand in the last minute before closing out a 81-72 victory over Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Saturday afternoon in Edwardsville, Illinois. The Screaming Eagles go to 12-9 overall and 5-3 in the OVC, while the Cougars are 14-7, 5-3 OVC.  

With the victory, USI is in a four-way tie for second in the OVC standings at 5-3 and a half-game out of first behind, pending the conclusion of the Tennessee Tech University-Southeast Missouri State University game, which was headed to a second overtime at press time. USI, currently, is tied at 5-3 with SIUE, University of Tennessee at Martin, and Morehead State University. 

USI was dominating through the first 20 minutes of action, building a 38-22 lead by the intermission. Sophomore guard Isaiah Swope (Newburgh, Indiana) led the charge with 14 points in the half, hitting five-of-eight with four three-pointers. 

The Eagles, as a team, led by as many as 17 points during the first half (36-19) after shooting 45.2 percent for the half (14-31) and 53.3 percent from the beyond the arc (8-15). 

SIUE made a brief run at USI to start the second half, cutting the margin to 11 points three times in the first eight minutes (42-31, 48-37, 50-39). USI methodically pushed the lead back to 18 points, 59-41, on a 9-2 spurt with 8:31 left on the clock. Senior forward Jacob Polakovich (Grand Rapids, Michigan) led the surge with six of the nine points. 

USI appeared to be cruising until the last five minutes of the game when SIUE exploded on a 20-6 run to cut the Eagles’ lead to six points, 67-61, with 2:16 to play. The Eagles regained the momentum with a 7-0 spurt to get the lead back to double-digits, 73-61, with 1:30 remaining on the clock. 

The Cougars, however, had one more run at the Eagles to cut the margin to eight points, 75-67, before USI closed out the game at the free throw line for the 82-72 victory. 

Swope led four players in double-digits for the Eagles with 23 points, adding nine points in the final 20 minutes. The sophomore guard was six-of-12 overall, four-of-seven from long range, and seven-of-12 from the line. 

Senior guard Jelani Simmons (Columbus, Ohio) followed Swope with 17 points, reaching double-digits for the second game in a row. Polakovich finished with 16 points, all in the second half, and grabbed 23 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the year. The 23 rebounds also marked Polakovich’s third 20-plus rebound game of the season. 

USI graduate forward Trevor Lakes (Lebanon, Indiana) rounded out the double-figure scorers with 12 points and was second on the team with eight rebounds. 

Next Up For USI:

USI returns to the friendly surroundings Screaming Eagles Arena Thursday when it hosts Eastern Illinois University. The game, which is slated for a 7:30 p.m. tip, will be streamed on ESPN+ in addition to being heard on ESPN 97.7FM and 95.7FM The Spin

EIU (7-14, 3-5 OVC) stumbled at the University of Tennessee at Martin this afternoon, 91-78, and reached the middle of its three-game road swing. The Panthers have lost four of their last five in January.  EIU junior guard Kinyon Hodges led the Panthers in the loss to UTM with 25 points. 

The Panthers evened the series with the Eagles, 2-2, after taking the first meeting of the season, 91-80, in Charleston back in December.

USI was led by graduate forward Trevor Lakes and junior guard Gary Solomon (Detroit, Michigan) with 16 points each. EIU was led by sophomore guard Dan Luers with 20 points.