Bowling Green, Ky. — Tony Young scored 22 points to lead five players in double figures Saturday as Southern Illinois earned a 75-70 non-conference men’s basketball victory over Western Kentucky University at E.A. Diddle Arena.
Randal Falker and Wesley Clemmons added 12 points and seven rebounds each for the Salukis (7-1), who shot 55.8 percent from the floor and held a 31-22 rebounding advantage. Matt Shaw chipped in with 11 points and a game-best nine boards, and Jamaal Tatum collected 10 points. Bryan Mullins had a game-high seven assists in 25 minutes before fouling out.
The Hilltoppers, who saw their second four-game win streak of the year come to an end, fell to 8-2 despite 23 points, six rebounds and five steals from Courtney Lee.
WKU — has a week off for finals before returning to action at Tennessee on Saturday, Dec. 16 in a game that will be televised live on Fox Sports Net South at 3 p.m (CST) — also shot 50 percent from the field while recording a season-low 10 turnovers. The 70 points were the most scored against the Salukis this season.
WKU was trailing 33-17 with just under four minutes remaining, but got back in the contest by scoring the final 10 points before the break keyed by a pair of Tyrone Brazelton threes. His second, after two Lee free throws, cut the deficit to eight, and following a long defensive rebound he found Boris Siakam at the other end of the court
for a layup that left the Toppers behind by six at the half.
It took the Hilltoppers 16 minutes to finally overtake the Salukisafter intermission, though, as they gained their first lead of the night when Orlando Mendez-Valdez connected on a pair of free throws to make the score 59-58 with four minutes to go.
After the break, SIU used a Young three-pointer and a jumper from Falker to extend to a nine-point lead, 42-33, with just under 16 minutes remaining. When Siakam made 1-of-2 foul shots at 12:05, the SIU lead was cut to four, 42-38, but WKU wouldn’t make it a one-possession contest until a Ty Rogers trey at 9:33 made the score 46-43.
An A.J. Slaughter three-pointer with 6:47 left drew WKU to within one at 51-50, while the Toppers tied the contest three times before Mendez-Valdez’ free throws.
Falker’s dunk on a feed from Shaw gave the Salukis the lead back, 60-59, with 3:17 to go and Young put SIU up four points when he connected on his sixth trey of the night 24 seconds later.
He finished 6-of-7 from beyond the arc as the Dawgs hit an opponent-high 44.4 percent from long distance.
Mendez-Valdez was fouled on a three-point attempt at 1:15, hitting all three foul shots, to make the game a three-point contest at 72-69, but the Salukis converted nine straight foul shots over the final 60 seconds to hold off the Hilltoppers.
“It was an awesome atmosphere in Diddle Arena tonight, our fans were phenomenal and we appreciate that. It was a big difference in keeping us in — and helping us get back into — the game,” said WKU head coach
Darrin Horn. “The game came down to what we knew it would all week — SIU is a veteran team with guys who have been there and done that, and they stepped up and made huge play after huge play down the stretch.”
— WKU —