Eagles rolls in GLVC first round, 87-61


University of Southern Indiana Men’s Basketball rolled by the  University of Missouri-St Louis, 87-61, in the first round of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament Thursday night at Vadalabene Center in Edwardsville, Illinois. The Screaming Eagles, the third seed, rises to 22-7, while the Tritons ends the season, 20-9.

With the win, the Eagles advance to play second-seeded and 13th-ranked Bellarmine University Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in the GLVC Tournament semifinals. The Knights move on to Saturday’s game after defeating seventh-seeded Rockhurst University in overtime, 75-64, to rise to 24-4. USI and Bellarmine split the season series this year, each winning on the other’s home court.

The Eagles lead the all-time series with Bellarmine overall, 51-43, and last defeated the Knights in the GLVC Tournament in the 2014 championship game at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana. The 2014 tournament was the last time USI won the GLVC championship.

USI senior guard Alex Stein (Evansville, Indiana) hit a three-point bomb to start game and senior forward Jacob Norman (Evansville, Indiana) followed with a dunk to set the tone in the first half the Eagles.

The Eagles methodically built a 12-point lead by the 13:46 minute mark of the opening half when senior guard/forward Nate Hansen (Evansville, Indiana) hit a long range bucket to make the score 21-9. UMSL rallied and cut the lead to five, 25-20, at 11:05 and 28-23 at 8:09, but that would be as close as Tritons would come the rest of the game.

USI ended the opening stanza with a 12-0 run get the lead up 18 points, 44-26, before taking a 44-29 advantage into the intermission. The Eagles were on point from the field during the opening half, hitting 51.5 percent (17-33) of their shots, and were led by Stein, who led the shooters with 20 points.

Stein was a blistering seven-of-nine from the field, three-of-four from long range, and three-of-three from the stripe in the first half.

In the second half, the Triton were able to cut the USI margin to 11 points twice before the Eagles pulled away for good. USI extended the lead to as many as 26 points twice, including the final score of 87-61.

Stein added seven second-half points and finished with a game-high 27 points, leading four Eagles in double-digits. He concluded action 10-of-14 from the field.

Junior guard/forward Kobe Caldwell (Bowling Green, Kentucky) followed Stein in the scoring column with 15 points on six-of-11 from of the field, including a three-point field goal and two-of-two from the stripe. He also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

Norman was a perfect five-of-five from the outside and three-of-four from the stripe to finish with a season-high 13 points, while following Caldwell on the glass with seven boards. Hansen rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11 points.