24-point first-half deficit too much to overcome.
Missouri S&T made up most of a 24-point first half deficit, but couldn't completely wipe it out Thursday night as it dropped an 81-69 Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) decision to eighth-ranked Southern Indiana.
S&T falls to 5-7 overall and 0-4 in the GLVC. Southern Indiana improves to 11-0 and 3-0.
After falling behind 29-5 in the first 11-plus minutes of play, the Miners outscored the Screaming Eagles 26-11 to finish the half and trailed by only nine. S&T was able to get the lead down to six and later to four in the second half, but couldn't get any closer as it dropped its third straight contest.
It was a case where the Miners had no answer for the Screaming Eagles' larger front line, particularly Aaron Nelson, who recorded his 11th straight double-double with 24 points and 23 rebounds. The Miners held the Eagles - the fourth-best shooting team in NCAA Division II at the start of the week - to its second-lowest field goal percentage of the season at 47.7 percent, but were hurt by 22 second chance points thanks to USI's 21-rebound advantage in the game.
The Miners had just one field goal in the first nine minutes of play, as the Eagles used an early 14-0 run to take an 18-point lead by the 12:28 mark. Following a layup by sophomore guard Zach Ellis with 10:41 to go in the half, USI ran off nine more points in succession to take its largest lead of the half with 8:38 remaining in the period.
S&T started the cut into the lead, using a 10-0 run of its own capped by a senior guard Bryce Foster three-pointer to cut the margin to 12 with just under four minutes to play in the half. The Miners then got the lead under 10 as senior guard Nusrath Khan made the second of two free throws with 1:10 to go, leaving them with just a nine-point deficit at the intermission.
The Screaming Eagles got the lead back to 13 in the early stages of the second half, but seven straight points by S&T brought it to within six.
Moments later, after USI rebuilt its lead to 14, the Miners rattled off a 14-4 run thanks in part to three-point baskets by Khan, Foster and a pair by sophomore forward Michael Nesbitt to make it 66-62 with 5:04 left.
USI answered with seven straight of its own, including putbacks by Orlando Rutledge and Nelson along the way that extended the lead back into double figures with exactly three minutes left to play.
Khan led the Miners with 15 points and Foster finished with 12 as S&T, who entered the game as Division II's second-highest scoring team with an average of 96 points a game, was held to its lowest point total of the season. S&T shot just 35.4 percent for the game but did connect 10 times from three-point range.
The Miners will continue their weekend road trip Saturday when they face Division II's second-ranked team, Bellarmine, who ended No. 3 Drury's 34-game winning streak Thursday with an 85-77 win. The Miners and Knights will square off at 2:15 p.m. (Central time).