The men’s basketball team rode an early 20-point advantage to victory as it defeated the University of New Orleans 72-55 Monday night.
The Salukis jumped to a commanding 31-10 lead in the first half as senior guard Jeff Early scored 11 points during the stretch. He scored 15 after the first 20 minutes of play and accounted for 7 of the Salukis’ 18 rebounds by halftime.
The guard notched his first double-double of the season, but it was also his first since the Salukis’ Jan. 18 loss against Drake last season. The senior led the team with 27 points and 12 rebounds.
The Salukis scored 15 points off turnovers and outrebounded the Privateers 23-14 by the end of the first half. The team’s early unselfish passing was highlighted by Jackson’s lob to Early, who slam-dunked the ball with 11 minutes left to play in the first.
Junior guard Desmar Jackson made three shots for nine points with two assists in the first half. Jackson struggled to stay on the court in the second half and had difficulty shooting the ball, as he made only two of his 12 attempted field goals in the last 20 minutes. However, the guard made seven of his eight free throws and ended the night with 17 points.
The Salukis forced the Privateers into 27 turnovers and made 13 steals. Coach Barry Hinson said the defense’s tenacity started to show itself during exhibition play. In two preseason games this season, the team forced Upper Iowa University into 19 turnovers and made Lincoln University lose possession 25 times.
The team was plagued by early foul trouble as junior forward Davante Drinkard and sophomore guard Josh Swan each banked three personal fouls by the end of the first half. Jackson and sophomore forward Antonio Bryer, the only other postman who suited up for the Salukis, obtained two personal fouls in the first 20 minutes of play.
With just six boards between them, neither Bryer nor Drinkard rebounded the ball well. However, they managed to score a combined 12 points. Bryer was perfect from the field and made all four of his shots.
The team shot almost 51 percent (28-55) from the field in its first game of the season, which was 10 points better than last season’s average. The Salukis also shot 86 percent (15-18) from the free throw line, which is a 22-percent improvement from last season.
The men return to action Nov. 17 against Benedictine University- Springfield at home.