EVANSVILLE, Ind. – After coming away on even terms in the first half and then taking an early lead after the intermission, Missouri S&T's men's basketball team succumbed to a second half run by Southern Indiana and wound up on the losing end of a 98-78 Great Lakes Valley Conference decision Thursday night.
The Miners opened the game by scoring the first four points and held the advantage throughout a good portion of the game's first seven minutes. S&T built a seven-point lead after a three-pointer by Ervin Sarajlic(St. Louis, MO/Oakville) and a jumper by Chris Harris(Antioch, IL/Lake Forest Academy) that followed at the 14:17 mark of the first half before USI went on a 10-0 run to eventually take its first lead of the game.
But the Miners answered back, as Allante Pickens (Chicago, IL/Curie) hit a three-pointer to tie the game back up at the 12:09 mark before the teams swapped the lead over the next four minutes.
Sarajlic hit a lay-up with 7:30 to go in the half to put S&T back in the lead, then two free throws by Chris Harris (Antioch, IL/Lake Forest Academy) and a basket by Joe Johnson (Waynesville, MO/Waynesville) pushed the S&T advantage back to five, but USI eliminated that lead and turned it back into a see-saw affair for the rest of the half.
The Miners took a two-point lead in the final seconds of the first half on Dulan Scott (Chicago, IL/Farragut Academy)'s floater in the lane, but Emmanuel Little's basket just before the period ended sent the teams to the locker room tied at 44.
S&T's 44 first half points were the most it had scored in a GLVC game this season and only the third time in which the Miners had scored at least 40 in the first half of a game as they shot 54.5 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes.
The Miners continued their solid play into the start of the second half, going up by five in the opening moments after a three-pointer by Johnson and a lay-up by Scott. After Johnson answered a Marcellous Washington three-pointer with a basket to keep the Miners up by four, the Screaming Eagles ran off seven straight to regain the advantage; a three-pointer by Nate Hansen put USI back into the lead.
Scott scored at the 16:08 mark to draw S&T to within one, but the Screaming Eagles broke the game open over the next five minutes by outscoring the Miners 18-2, sandwiching runs of 8-0 and 10-0 around a lay-up by Scott to take their largest lead of the contest at the time.
USI connected on 58.8 percent of its shot in the second half and finished the night at 55.1 percent overall, while also making 12 three-point baskets. Little, who replaced Julius Rajala in the USI starting lineup due to Rajala's suspension for the game, led all scorers with 29 points.
Harris led the Miners with 20 points, while Scott added 14 points and Johnson finished with 13. Romain Louiserre (La Ferte Alais, France/Fredrick Fays) was the Miners' fourth double figure scorer with 10 points, but S&T hit only 39.5 percent of its second half shots after being over the 50 percent mark at halftime.
The Miners will face sixth-ranked Bellarmine Saturday at 3:15 p.m. (Eastern time) in Louisville, Ky.