Game #9-088: Southern Illinois at SIU Edwardsville CougarsNovember 20, 2012 8:00 pm
(Photo courtesy BND.com - ZIA NIZAMI)
We knew coming into this game there would be tension. Here we had two schools separated by just 100 miles of Illinois prairie and two letters.
One program is starting a rise from the lowest they've ever been. They had heard and read the talk; "Southern Illinois basketball is gone. Floorburn U. is dead, and their relevance in the Missouri Valley Conference and college basketball has been buried with it." They could not afford a loss in this game, because it would only amplify the talk.
The other is hosting the biggest game of their new Division I life. They've heard years of snide, a lot of it coming from people wearing maroon, and always drenched in condescension. "Oh, SIUE has
a basketball team? They're D-I now? Well, good for them!" The Edwardsville faithful always took it in stride. They knew they would one day get their chance, on their court, to put away Big Brother. A loss would amplify the snide remarks.
And here it was. For all the joking I've made about this game and the name (THE SOUTHERN ILLINOIS SHOWDOWN THROWDOWN) I've bestowed to it, it had all the makings of a real showdown.
And for most of the game, it was. Each Saluki run was matched with a Cougar run, keeping the game within the Cougars' reach. The Cougars started the second half by throwing some zone defense at SIUC, and the Salukis coughed up the ball with regularity. The Cougars turned the turnovers into a run, and with 12:56 left, Derian Shaffer scored a layup to give SIUE a 42-40 lead, their first of the game.
But the Salukis decided to give SIUE a taste of their own medicine and ran a 2-3 zone, something which might seem as anathema to a Saluki fan, but was highly effective. Over the next five minutes, SIUE turned the ball over four times and SIUC went on a 18-5 run.
As I said, I've joked a lot about this being The Showdown Throwdown. Never did I imagine I would see an actual throwdown in this game.
After an errant three-point shot by Kris Davis, SIUE's Jerome Jones and SIUC's Jeff Early dove for the loose ball just ten feet from the Cougars' bench. Saluki Antonio Bryer dove on top of the two of them. As the three rolled on the floor, Bryer was placed in a headlock by Jones. Bryer threw an elbow, Jones answered with a fist. The Cougars' Ray Lester jumped onto Bryer.
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 71, at SIU EDWARDSVILLE 55
(Photo courtesy BND.com - ZIA NIZAMI)
Both benches rose to their feet. Several Cougars stepped toward the pile. Mark Yelovich left the scorer's table and ran onto the court. One fan, a man in his twenties, came down from behind the Cougar bench and actually stepped onto the court before he was stopped by a referee, then quickly ushered out by two police officers.
It was really a matter of placement. Had this scrum happened 70 feet to the left, in front of the Salukis' bench, it stands to reason there could have been several Salukis who would have stepped onto the court and into the melee. Barry Hinson's assistants were able to keep their players back, at least enough to not be seen by the ones who count - the referees and the television cameras. Lennox Forrester's assistants never had that chance with the quick escalation from jump ball to thrown fists.
After twenty minutes of reviewing and deliberating, the verdict came. Antonio Bryer had been ejected for a flagrant foul, and he was the only Saluki punished. As for the Cougars, Jerome Jones and Ray Lester were ejected for flagrant fouls, and Mark Yelovich, Zeke Schneider, Charles Joy, and Kyle Heck were all ejected for leaving the bench. Like a bizarre, reverse starting line-up, each Cougar stood up from the bench and walked off of the court as their name was announced.
The total: seven players and one fan ejected. SIUE was left with seven total players for the remainder of the game.
While I can't condone coming onto the court, there was something oddly encouraging about seeing so many Cougars come to the aid of their teammate. I think a lot of people will dismiss them as thugs, but it says something about an SIUE team willing to do that.
The rest of the game ticked away without fanfare, and the Salukis held on to get the win.
But the talk, and the fight against it, continue for both teams. SIU still has prove themselves to be relevant in college basketball. SIUE still has to prove themselves as a worthy opponent to their Carbondale counterparts and worthy as an addition to Division I. It will require much more effort than an on-court scuffle requires, and unlike this brawl, every player will have to be involved.
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 3-0 (0-0) -- K. Brown-Surles 5-7 2-2 15; J. Early 5-9 6-7 16; A. Beane Jr. 6-9 2-2 15; D. Jackson 5-11 2-3 12; A. Bryer 1-2 0-0 2; J. Pendleton 1-6 0-2 2; T. Lindsay 1-3 0-0 3; D. Daniels 0-0 2-2 2; D. Drinkard 0-2 0-0 0; J. Swan 2-5 0-3 4. Totals 26-54 14-21 71.
SIU EDWARDSVILLE 1-2 (0-0) -- K. Davis 2-9 0-0 4; D. Shaffer 7-11 3-6 17; J. Jones 3-10 3-3 9; M. Wiltz 1-5 4-4 7; T. Johnson 0-5 1-2 1; M. Yelovich 4-10 3-3 11; M. Messer 1-4 0-0 2; R. Reed 0-2 0-0 0; Z. Schneider 1-1 0-0 2; R. Lester 0-0 0-0 0; M. Birts 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 20-58 14-18 55.
Three-point goals: SIU 5-13 (D. Jackson 0-1; K. Brown-Surles 3-4; T. Lindsay 1-3; J. Swan 0-1; A. Beane Jr. 1-3; J. Pendleton 0-1), SIUE 1-13 (T. Johnson 0-2; J. Jones 0-4; M. Messer 0-1; K. Davis 0-3; M. Wiltz 1-3); Rebounds: SIU 32 (D. Jackson 10), SIUE 32 (D. Shaffer 10); Assists: SIU 9 (D. Jackson 2), SIUE 12 (R. Reed 3); Total Fouls -- SIU 18, SIUE 19; Fouled Out: SIU-A. Bryer; SIUE-None.