CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois put its first mark in the win column with a 96-74 victory over Division II Missouri S&T on Thursday night, as three players topped 20 points for SIU.
The Salukis (1-3) overcame a sluggish first half to out-score the Miners, 60-45, in the final 20 minutes. A staggering 63 fouls were called in the game, and with 10 minutes remaining, four players had already fouled out for Missouri S&T.
"We have seen that in every single basketball game this year," said Miners' head coach Jim Glash. "It's a horrible way to have to play. You saw teams make a decision to put their heads down and drive toward the basket knowing the whistle is going to blow. I don't think in this economy, people should be paying for tickets to watch teams shoot free throws."
After watching his team convert 23-of-38 free throws on the night, SIU head coach Barry Hinson agreed.
"I think we're absolutely ruining the game," he said. "No one wants to come and watch free-throw shooting. It's not the officials' fault at all -- it's the NCAA's fault. Last time I checked this game wasn't broken. It's amazing what we're doing to this game."
The game plan was pretty simple for both teams -- drive it to the basket. In the second half, the Salukis attempted only four jump shots, while the Miners took six. The remaining 41 field goal attempts were driving layups, and that doesn't include the attempts in which fouls were assessed.
Fortunately for Southern, they had three players who were basically unstoppable on their way to the rim. Desmar Jackson had his second-straight double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Jalen Pendleton also had 24, while Anthony Beane broke out of a recent shooting slump with an 8-for-10 night and 20 points.
"With Jackson and Beane, how are you going to stay in front of them if you're not allowed to touch them at all and you're not allowed to take charges?" asked Glash.
The game got off to a sluggish start. Missouri S&T applied a full-court press after every made basket and the first seven fouls were called on the Miners. After 13 minutes of stop-and-start play, the visitors led, 21-20.
Southern finally gained the upper hand with a 10-0 run sparked by a couple of fast-break buckets by Beane. SIU led, 36-29, at halftime, and the lead remained in single digits until midway through the second half when three starters and a key reserve had all fouled out for Missouri S&T.
"It's a shame that these kids are so well-conditioned, so physically strong, and now they can't use it," said Glash, after watching Bryce Foster, Nusrath Khan, Danylo Zuikov and Tyler Anderson join him on the bench.
The Salukis took advantage of the Miners' depleted roster, outscoring them 33-21 in the final 10 minutes, capped off by a 3-pointer by walk-on Colby Long with 31 seconds remaining. Hinson said there was little joy in the Saluki locker room after the long and ragged affair.
"You've got a locker room of guys that won a 22-point ballgame and their first win of the year, and it looks like they're beat down and lost the game," he said. "It's not even fun for them."
SIU will head to Florida next week for the three-day Gulf Coast Showcase tournament with a slightly depleted roster. Forward Bronson Verhines sprained an ankle and could be out for two weeks, Hinson said. Sophomore guard Hunter Gibson also indicated his intention to transfer at the semester break and will not accompany the team to the Sunshine state.
Follow WPSD Sports on Facebook by clicking here.
Follow WPSD Twitter on Facebook by clicking here.