By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Colonels (10-5, 1-1 OVC) suffered a disappointing 85-79 loss to Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (3-11, 1-1 OVC) on the road Saturday.
After leading by as many as nine points in the first half, and holding a 42-39 lead at the half, EKU found itself down by 11 points with 2:20 left in the game.
The Colonels tried to stage a dramatic comeback, out-scoring the Cougars 11-2 to get to within two, 81-79, on a three pointer by Orlando Williams with 55 seconds remaining.
But that was as close as they could get and SIUE pulled off the upset over the preseaon conference favorite.
The Colonels struggled in about every aspect of the game.
The Cougars out-rebounded the Colonels 33-22, many of which were offensive rebounds that led to second-chance points.
EKU committed 12 turnovers in the game, eight of which came in the second half and aided in the Cougars decisive run mid-way through the half.
But the biggest difference in the game was the Colonels inability on defense to stop the dribble penetration by the SIUE guards, which in the second half led to some wide open three point shots, which the Cougars knocked down.
“We were trying to figure out how to guard them. Whether it was man-to-man or 1-3-1 zone, they were able to ignite with the dribble ... and get past our defenders and force us to help,” EKU coach Jeff Neubauer said. “When we helped, they kicked it out to shooters and they shot it in. They were very effective with the dribble. That’s how they got fouled and how they created open shots for their teammates.”
After trailing at halftime, SIUE came out in the second half and took charge.
SIUE outscored EKU 8-4 to start the second half to take a 47-46 lead. The lead changed hands five more times before the Cougars took the lead for good, 63-62, on a three pointer by Maurice Wiltz.
That ignited a 14-2 run by the Cougars midway through the half that ended with SIUE up 79-68.
Glenn Cosey led the way for the Colonels in the losing effort with 23 points on 7-of-16 shooting from the field and 3-of-9 from behind the three point line.
Corey Walden (19 points) and Orlando Williams (18 points) also were in double figures.
Marcus Lewis finished with seven points, Eric Stutz had four points before fouling out, and Tarius Johnson, Timmy Knipp, Jeff Johnson and Deverin Muff had two points apiece.
The Colonels don’t have much time to dwell on the loss with three very tough opponents next up on the schedule.
EKU hosts Murray State on Wednesday, then travel to Morehead to take on the Eagles on Jan. 11, followed by a home contest with Belmont on Jan. 16.