Comeback attempt falls short as Cougars shut down Golden Eagles 58-54
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - A second straight come-from-behind victory looked to be within reach for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team, but the SIU Edwardsville Cougars held on for a 58-54 Ohio Valley Conference victory Saturday night, sending the Golden Eagles home with a 1-1 split on its most recent road trip.
Following a stellar shooting performance from behind the 3-point line at Eastern Illinois Thursday evening, the Golden Eagles struggled to replicate those numbers, converting just three out of 20 attempts from downtown on the night.
The Cougars struggled from the field all night, shooting just 39 percent from the floor and a paltry 51.5 percent from the charity stripe. Michael Messer and Jerome Jones marked the only two SIUE players to score in double figures for the game, recording 14 and 13 points, respectively. Half of Messer's 14 came off seven converted free throws, including five in the final 15 seconds of the game.
The biggest difference in the game turned out to be an 11-0 run by SIU Edwardsville in the second half. The run spanned from the 16:11 to the 8:45 mark. It opened up a 10-point Cougar lead that the squad never relinquished.
Tennessee Tech senior guard Jud Dillard put together his second consecutive stellar performance, recording his sixth double-double of the season. He led all players with 29 points and 12 rebounds on seven-of-16 shooting from the field. The Atlanta, Ga. native also tied a career-high on the evening, sinking 13 free throws on 16 attempts. He played nearly the entire game, seeing 38 minutes of the action.
Junior forward Matt Marseille performed admirably for the Golden Eagles, scoring 10 points and pulling down six big boards in 22 minutes of play. The Brooklyn, N.Y. native also recorded the Tech block of the evening.
A redshirt freshman guard out of Atlanta, Ga., Lanerryl Johnson stepped up in a huge role for the Golden Eagles in the game, playing a career-high 30 minutes at the point guard position following an injury to junior point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas. Johnson scored six points while dealing with an unrelenting Cougar defense all night.
Tech recorded 38 rebounds on the evening, out-muscling its OVC opponent by six on the glass. Every single Golden Eagle grabbed a rebound against the Cougars, just the second time this season that the team pulled off the feat. The first occurrence was also in Illinois, in Tech's game against the Loyola Chicago Ramblers.
With seven days to go until its next contest, the Golden Eagles will look to rest up and focus on its next OVC opponent. Tech hits the road next Saturday for a meeting against Southeast Missouri. With tip time set for 7 p.m. CST, the Golden Eagles will look to grab a winning conference record on the road heading into its ESPN U match-up against the Racers of Murray State on Jan. 24.