USI’s late rallies fall short at Missouri


COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Southern Indiana Men’s Basketball exploded for 60 second half points, but it was not enough in falling to the University of Missouri, 97-91, Monday evening in Columbia, Missouri. The Screaming Eagles, who were playing in their very first NCAA Division I game, starts the year 0-1, while Missouri begins 2022-23, 1-0.

The Eagles got off to a rocky start by spotting the Tigers a 9-0 lead before sophomore guard Isaiah Swope (Newburgh, Indiana) scored USI’s first NCAA Division I basket on a drive to the bucket with 16:39 on the clock. USI shrank the margin to 9-5 on a three by Swope and again at 11-7 on jumper in the paint by sophomore guard Jeremiah Hernandez (Chicago, Illinois).

Missouri rebounded to grow its lead to 14 points, 26-12, halfway through the opening stanza, before USI made another run. The Eagles closed the gap to eight points twice in front of another Tiger run to get the lead to 16 points at the break, 47-31.

The second half was a much different USI team on the court as the Eagles rallied in the final 10 minutes to drive the Tigers to the edge.

USI scored the first four points of the second half on a pair of buckets by senior guard Jelani Simmons (Columbus, Ohio) to cut the halftime deficit to 11 points, 47-36. The Tigers quickly responded by scoring nine quick points to extend the margin to 20 points, 56-36, with 17:30 left on the clock.

The Eagles started their first comeback of the second half with a speedy 11-0 sprint to shrink the deficit to nine points, 56-47, when graduate forward Trevor Lakes (Lebanon, Indiana) hit two back-to-back three-point bombs. Missouri pushed the lead back to double digits and posted another 20-point lead, 83-63, with 4:47 to go, but USI was not done and had a second rally in reserve.

USI would outscore Missouri, 28-14, in the final four minutes to close the 20-point gap to just six, 97-91, before the final buzzer shut the door on the Eagles’ offensive surge. The Eagles were a blistering nine-of-10 from the field, including a perfect seven-of-seven from beyond the arc, and three-of-three from the stripe during their final push. Hernandez led the final rally with 11 of the 28 points, while Lakes dropped in nine.

After the lackluster first half that saw the Eagles shoot 28.1 percent from the field (9-32), including a 1-13 showing from long range, USI’s second half was nearly perfect. The Eagles shot a blistering 71.4 percent from the field (20-28), including 82.4 percent from beyond the arc (14-17), and six-of-nine from the stripe.

Individually for the game, USI had five players score in double-digits, led by Simmons, who scored 17 second half points and finished with a game-high 23. He was perfect in the second half, hitting six-of-six from the field and five-of-five from three-point range. The senior also was eight-of-15 from the field in the game and grabbed a team-high six rebounds.

Lakes and Hernandez followed with 18 points and 14 points, respectively. Lakes scored all 18 of his points in the second half, while Hernandez posted 11 of his 14 points in the final half. Swope was fourth on the team with 13 points and dished a team-high six assists.

Junior guard Tyler Henry (Brooklyn, New York) rounded out the USI double-digit scorers with 11 points.

Next Up 2022-223 Regular season:
USI opens the 2022-23 home schedule Sunday when it hosts Southern Illinois University for a 3 p.m. contest at Screaming Eagles Arena. The game will be streamed on ESPN+, while airing on ESPN 97.7 FM and 95.7FM The Spin.

The Eagles trail the all-time series versus the Salukis, 3-0, and have not played SIU in the regular season since the 1984-85. SIU won the first meeting between the two teams in 1981-82 (84-59) before taking the matchups in 1983-84 (103-73) and 1984-85 (83-70).

USI narrowly missed winning an exhibition game at SIU in 2009-10 when the Salukis won, 71-69, on a last second shot.


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