(CARBONDALE, IL) It took almost thirty years for the SIU-Edwardsville men’s basketball program to do something that it had never accomplished before, a first-time victory over its sister school.
The Cougars topped SIU-Carbondale, 76-74, Wednesday night in front of 4,800 at SIU Arena en route to a historical hard-court benchmark. In seven prior meetings between the two programs, which dates back to 1985, the Cougars had never tasted victory.
Edwardsville sported a 6-2 lead one minute in following junior guard Burak Eslik’s three-pointer. SIUC responded with a 5-0 run and posted a 7-6 lead change at the 16:50 mark.
On the next possession, Eslik connected for his second three-pointer of the night as SIUE regained the lead, 9-7.
SIUC surged with a 7-0 run over the next ninety seconds and, punctuated by Mike Rodriguez’s lay-up with 15:15 left in the half, claimed a 14-9 advantage.
The Salukis maintained the lead until Carr notched a three-pointer for SIUE with 11:50 left in the half, resulting in a 20-18 scoreboard flip in favor of the Cougars.
As both teams continued the frenetic pace, SIUE extended their differential to seven points and possessed a 38-31 lead at the 1:49 mark following senior forward Grant Fiorentinos’ jump shot.
The Salukis finished strong with a 6-1 run for the remainder of the half and SIUE clung on to a 39-37 lead at intermission.
In the second half, SIUC tied the game, 43-43, following Leo Vincent’s lay-up two and a half minutes in. With stubborn defense, SIUE posted five points uncontested and held a 48-43 advantage at the 14:05 mark.
The Cougars pushed its lead to double-digits with Devin Thorton’s three pointer made with 9:48 left that gave SIUE a 58-47 lead. The junior forward hit another trey with 6:17 remaining to help the Cougars push the score to 66-54.
Trailing 69-58 with five minutes left, SIUC went on 12-2 run in a three-minute span to make the game a one-point nail biter. Highlighted by a pair of Saluki three-pointers and punctuated with Anthony Beane’s layup with 2:03 left, Carbondale whittled the game to a solo point, 71-70.
SIUE’s Eslik hit his fourth three-pointer of the night with :58 left that pushed the Cougars’ lead to 74-70.
Fifteen seconds later, SIUC redshirt freshman Armon Fletcher (coincidentally, an Edwardsville High School product) slammed a dunk to make the score 74-72. On the ensuing SIUE inbounds, Fletcher stole the ball and easily kissed the glass for a lay-up bucket, resulting in a 74-74 tie with :39 remaining.
Following a timeout, SIUE netted the winning points with :25 seconds left as Carr connected from 19-feet out to give the Cougars a 76-74 lead. SIUC’s O’ Brien launched a three-point attempt as the clock approached goose eggs, but missed, and the Cougars held on to the two-point victory to record the team’s newfound chapter in its historical ledger.
Eslik paced SIUE scoring with a career-high 23 points followed by Carr’s 16. The Cougars host Portland State at SIUE’s Vadalabene Center Saturday at 4 p.m. Tickets are available at this link. The game will be carried live by Fox Sports Midwest.
SIU-EDWARDSVILLE (76): Burak Eslik 23, C.J. Carr 16, Grant Fioentinos 13, Devin Thornton 9, Jalen Henry 4, Keenan Simmons 4, Connor Wheeler 3, Jake Newton 2, Carlos Anderson 1, Yemi Makanjuola 1.
SIU-CARBONDALE (74): Andrew Beane 21, Sean O’ Brien 15, Mike Rodriguez 11, Armon Fletcher 10, Bola Olaniyan 9, Austin Weiher 4, Leo Vincent 4.