SIUE Men Claim Win Over Western Illinois

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Published on November 15 2012 11:26 am
Last Updated on November 15 2012 11:26 am
Written by Millie Lange

EDWARDSVILLE – Jerome Jones poured in a career-high 26 points Wednesday night to lead SIUE men's basketball to a 62-50 home opener win over Western Illinois.

"I thought our guys did a great job tonight. It was a team effort," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "We threw some different defenses at them to mix it up, and our guys played well."

SIUE won its home opener for the second straight year. The Cougars improved to 33-12 all-time in home openers.

Jones connected on a career-best 10 field goals in 15 attempts from the field and hit a career-high five three-pointers for the second consecutive game.

"(Jerome) plays with tremendous confidence," Forrester added. "He and I sat down after the season last year to talk about what he needed to work on.  He was taking too many bad shots, and it's tough to get your confidence up when you do that.  Now, he is much more disciplined and patient."

Following a first half in which the lead changed six times, the Cougars, now 1-1, controlled the second half from the onset.

Western Illinois, also 1-1, led only briefly during the first 20 minutes. A Terrell Parks lay-in with 15:52 left in the half gave the Leathernecks a 7-6 lead. After SIUE regained the lead, Parks again put Western Illinois ahead 11-10 with another layup at 14:08. It was the last time Western led in the game.

The Cougars reeled off eight straight points capped off by a Mark Yelovich layup with 9:48 left in the half which put SIUE on top 18-11. The Cougars took a 31-28 lead into halftime.

SIUE blasted out of the gates at the start of the second half. Jones drained a three-pointer 55 seconds into the half to extend the Cougars' lead to 34-28. SIUE proceeded on a 20-5 run over the first 8:40 seconds of the half to lead 51-33 following a foul shot by Yelovich with 11:18 left in the game. The Cougars pushed the lead to 18 again when Jones hit a three-pointer to make it 58-40 with 7:01 to play.

Yelovich finished with 13 points after going scoreless for the first time in his career in the loss at Missouri. He was 5 of 14 from the field. Yelovich and Jones were the only SIUE players in double figures.

"I thought he did a nice job of bouncing back," Forrester said. "He didn't play particularly well in the exhibition games and at Mizzou.  But he did a great job tonight.  I thought playing at home in front of our fans gave him a lot of energy."

Western Illinois shot 41 percent (16-39) from the field for the game, but the Cougars limited the Leathernecks to just four second-half field goals and 28.6 percent shooting.

"I thought they executed the game plan defensively, and I thought we rebounded the ball fairly well," Forrester said. "Our guys played hard, played well, and did a great job defending and not giving up easy baskets."

Parks led Western Illinois with 18 points but was limited to just three points in the second half. Ceola Clark was the only Leatherneck in double figures with 15 points.

SIUE shot 44.4 percent (24-54) for the game. Western Illinois held 29-28 edge in rebounding.

The Cougars are off until Tuesday when they welcome SIU Carbondale to Edwardsville for the first time in more than 25 years. Game time is 7 p.m. at the Vadalabene Center.