University of Southern Indiana Men’s Basketball failed to complete its road trip sweep by falling to Lewis University, 79-69, Saturday afternoon in Romeoville, Illinois. The Screaming Eagles fall to 16-6 overall and 8-4 in the GLVC, while the Flyers go to 17-4, 9-3 GLVC.
The Eagles started slow, hitting only two of their first seven shots, and found themselves down by five points twice to the Flyers, 15-10 and 17-12. USI rallied with a 14-3 run to take control in the opening half, hitting six-of-seven shots during the run that started on a three-point bomb by senior guard/forward Nate Hansen (Evansville, Indiana) and concluded with a boom when sophomore forward Emmanuel Little (Indianapolis, Indiana) threw down a dunk to lead 26-20 with 5:39 to halftime.
The USI first half lead would increase to as many as 10 points, 35-25, before the Eagles went into the intermission ahead, 39-32.
Overall in the first half, USI shot 54.2 percent for the half (13-24) and held Lewis to 39.3 percent (11-28). Little led the Eagles during the first 20 minutes with 13 points on six field goals and a free throw, while senior guard Alex Stein (Evansville, Indiana) wasted little time getting his 100th career double-figure game with 11 first half points.
The second half started with a bang when USI junior guard/forward Kobe Caldwell (Bowling Green, Kentucky) sank a three-point bomb to push the Eagles’ lead back to 10 points, 42-32. Lewis, however, caught fire with an 11-0 run to surpass USI, 43-42, with 15:08 to play.
The Eagles responded with a 10-0 run of their own on four-straight buckets and got the lead back, 52-43. The nine-point advantage would be the Eagles’ last lead of the game as the Flyers exploded on a 20-4 surge that put Lewis up by seven twice, including a 63-56 margin with 5:56 left on the clock.
USI chipped away at the deficit, pulling to within three points, 63-60, with 3:59 on the clock when Hansen drained a three-point field goal. The three-point deficit would be as close as the Eagles would come the rest of the way as the Flyers sealed USI’s fate with a 13-4 run before the 79-69 final.
The Eagles’ shooters cooled in the second half, hitting only 34.4 percent (11-32) in the final stanza from the field, 25 percent from beyond the arc (4-16). USI also was outrebounded in the contest, 36-26.
Individually in the final box score, Stein led four USI double-figure scorers with 20 points and comes home to the Physical Activities Center needing 69 points to reach 2,000 career points. Little followed Stein in the scoring column with his 13 first half points, while Hansen and Caldwell finished with 12 points and 10 points respectively.
USI returns to the friendly surroundings of the PAC next week to start a four-game homestand and Homecoming. The Eagles starts the homestand Thursday when they host McKendree University for a 7:30 p.m. before finishing the first half of the four-game home set with Homecoming versus the University of Illinois Springfield Saturday at 3:15 p.m.
McKendree is 9-13 overall and 5-8 in the GLVC after splitting on the road this week, while Illinois Springfield was 0-2 on the road and watched its record go to 13-10, 6-7 GLVC.
USI leads the all-time series with McKendree, 10-7 overall and 8-1 in GLVC, since the start of the series in 1970-71 and the Bearcats entrance into the GLVC in 2012-13. The Eagles, who lead the series at the PAC, 4-0, took last year’s match-up, 86-56, at McKendree and was led by the 22-point performance by forward DayJar Dickson.
USI has the series advantage versus Illinois Springfield, 10-4 overall and 7-3 in the GLVC, since the beginning of the match-ups in 2002-03 and the Prairie Stars entrance into the GLVC in 2009-10. The Eagles, who hold a 7-1 advantage in the series at the PAC, lost to the Stars last year in Springfield, Illinois, 79-70, despite the double-double, 23 points and 10 rebounds, by Little.