Beane Bounces the Cougars

In what can become a heated rivalry, the SIU Edwardsville Cougars lost to the SIU Carbondale Salukis, 79-64, at the Wednesday night at the Vadalabene Center.

All the ingredients were present for an excellent perennial contest, but however you mix them; the product just had no flavor. That being said, it was not for lack of trying. Both teams played every eligible player. The Salukis just had the main ingredient in junior guard Anthony Beane for the Cougars to pose a threat.

Beane finished the game with 28 points (20 in the first half), on 11-18 shooting. The Cougars had no answer for his abilities.

“I think he’s got 84 points in the last three games and we don’t win any of those unless he does that,” said SIUC Head Coach Barry Hinson. “The best thing is he scored 27 on 14, 27 on 14, and 28 on 18 shots tonight. To me that is the most impressive stat. He’s only forced one shot tonight. One shot out of eighteen shots and he forced one, I think that’s pretty good.”

“He was unbelievable,” said SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester.  “I think probably all five of our guys guarded him at one time; he scored on all five. He’s just a really good scorer and we knew that it would be hard to guard (him.)”

Opening half

The first half for SIUE was peppered with offensive mishaps early on by senior Rozell Nunn. In his first start, Nunn started and played in his first game for the Cougars this year, after starting 29 games for them last year.

“He hasn’t played in a long time, not having an exhibition game to get into the swing of things,” said Forrester. “I knew it was going to be tough for him and he was frustrated. It just happened to be a tough game for him to come back because of how Carbondale played. Hopefully we can get him going and get him back in the swing of how he ended the year last year for us.”

As a team, SIUE didn’t score a point until three minutes had gone by, and only scored 1-2 from the free throw line.  They finished the half 9-12 from the line.

“I thought our guys had some jitters,” said Forrester. “The fans were pretty excited. It was a game where they came out to watch us play and our guys were nervous. Guys that normally make shots didn’t make shots. We just didn’t knock them down.”

SIUE could not muster transition offense, regularly resulting in a one on four situations. When SIUE did settle into halfcourt sets there cohesiveness showed.

Collectively, the Cougars were just 1-9 from three point range, and didn’t have the soft touch to convert their shots (6-26 overall.) In twenty minutes of play, SIUE earned only one assist and seven turnovers.

Second Half

By the end of the game, the Cougars matched or came close to the Salukis in steals, turnovers, assists, and fouls.

“I thought our guys did a better job of attacking offensively, and did a better job defensively as far as getting some stops and turnovers,” said Forrester. “The encouraging thing is how they came out in the second half and played much better than they did in the first half.”

For the Cougars the second half started much better, going 7-8 in the first five minutes.  The Cougars were able to run a number of screens on subsequent possessions that lead to a pass down low for a quick basket.

Unfortunately, SIU Carbondale was able to beat the Cougars defensive pressure on inbounds plays, leading to quick layups.

Donivine Stewart finished the game with 17 points, 5 rebounds, a steal, and 2 assists in 36 minutes of play. He and teammate Kris Davis (18 pts, an assist, 4 turnovers, and a steal) carried the Cougars throughout the second half, scoring with some dazzling spin moves that turned into layups.

“I think we have to feed off of those two guys,” said Coach Forrester. “Because of our style of play, they can put the basketball on the floor, score, and create (opportunities) for others. They are playing a lot of minutes right now; going into the year I want to limit their minutes because it’s going to be a long season. Those guys are playing a lot more minutes than I want them to, some of our newer guys can continue to grow.”

Keenan Simmons (8 pts, 2 blocks, 14 minutes), and C.J. Carr (6pts, 19 minutes) showed fans that the future will be bright in Edwardsville. The two freshmen seemed unaffected by the fanfare surrounding the game, and came in poised and ready to play. Both players lack the physical presence to intimidate opponents, but in three more years they could be a reckoning force for the Cougars.

This rivalry game has been extended for the next two years, next year in Carbondale.

Next on the schedule for the Cougars are the Central Michigan Chippewas on Saturday in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
With this test behind them, SIUE can certainly feel that they are up to the task, if they can iron out a few bugs first.

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