SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – University of Southern Indiana senior forward Josh Price dominated the University of Illinois Springfield to power the Screaming Eagles to an 88-69 victory Saturday afternoon in Springfield, Illinois. USI, which increases its hold the GLVC East Division with the win, sees its record to go 7-3 this season, while Illinois Springfield ends the afternoon 6-6.
Price scored his career-high 35 points (the first Eagle to reach 30 points in a game this year) on a blistering 12-of-19 from the field and 11-of-12 from the line. He also dished out a career-high tying three assists, while grabbing a team-high eight rebounds.
To start the game, the Eagles got the opening bucket, but trailed 5-2 early as the Prairie Stars picked up five quick points. Price got going and the lead back for the Eagles, 10-5, with eight-straight points before five minutes had come off the clock.
Illinois Springfield rallied back with a 17-7 run to take a 22-17 lead at the 7:48 mark. USI responded with a 27-10 offensive surge in the final 7:48 of the half to go into the locker room with a 44-32 advantage at the break..
During run, the Eagles were a blistering eight-of-nine from the field, four-of-four from long range, and seven-of-seven from the stripe. Price and senior forward Clayton Hughes paced the Eagles during the run with nine points each. Hughes’ nine points came on three from beyond the arc.
For the half, USI shot 53.6 percent from the field (15-28) and 55.6 from long range (5-9). Price posted double-digits before halftime for the second game in a row with 15 points, while Hughes reached a season-high before the break with 11 points.
Junior guard Jelani Simmons exploded offensively in the first 10 minutes of the second half as the Eagles increased the advantage to 17 points with 12:42 to play, 63-46. Simmons, who did not have a point in the opening half, exploded for five-of-seven from the field, including four three-point bombs, for a quick 14-straight points to start the final stanza.
Illinois Springfield pushed USI for a brief time, cutting the 17-point lead to eight points, 66-58, with 9:17 to play. Hughes got the Eagles back on track with his fourth three-point bomb of the contest to put the lead back into double-digits, 69-58.
USI would cruise through the next nine minutes, outscoring Illinois Springfield, 19-11, and closing out the 88-69 victory. The Eagles’ largest lead was 21 points in the game, 84-63.
In addition to Price’s 35 points, Simmons finished with 16 points, all in the second half. Simmons, who was 0-2 in the opening half, was five-of-nine in the second 20 minutes, four-of-seven from beyond the arc, and two-of-two from the line.
Hughes added another three-point field goal in the second half to conclude the contest with a season-high 14 points. He was a blistering five-of-nine from the field overall, including a season-high four three-point field goals.
Senior guard Mateo Rivera rounded out the double-digit USI scorers with 10 points and dished out a season-high six assists in the contest.
USI, which has a 2.5 game lead in the GLVC East, comes home next week for a pair of games at Screaming Eagles Arena. The Eagles will host the rescheduled game with Lewis University Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and the scheduled game with Quincy University Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Lewis saw its record fall to 6-6 after falling 78-68 this afternoon at home to the University of Indianapolis. The Flyers finish the week 0-2 after falling to USI Thursday at home, 74-65.
USI holds a 49-27 series lead over Lewis, 48-27 since the Flyers joined the league in 1981-82. USI posted its first regular season win in Romeoville since 2013 with the win on Thursday.
- The USI-Truman State University game scheduled for next Saturday (January 30) has been postponed due to COVID-19. The possibility of scheduling another opponent for January 30 is yet to be determined.
- USI needs one more game this season to be eligible for the NCAA Division II Tournament in March.