The Salukis are one-and-done in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, losing 66-51 in the first round against Indiana State.
The Salukis (8-23, 5-14 MVC) couldn’t hit water at the bottom of a lake in the first half against Indiana State (17-13, 9-10 MVC), going 6-of-23 from the field, including 1-of-7 from three.
“We missed (freshman forward Dantiel Daniels) in the first half. We should have established him way earlier,” said senior guard Justin Bocot. “Maybe, down the road, that would have made their defense change … and it would have
helped our guards get free.”
Daniels finished the game with five points on 2-of-4 from the field.
SIU went almost six minutes without hitting a shot until senior forward Mamadou Seck hit a jumper with nine minutes and two seconds left in the first half to make the Indiana State lead 15-13.
Seck finished the game — and his career — with his 10th double-double of the season, scoring 14 points and 11 rebounds. He played all 40 minutes.
“Our inside game was working more,” Seck said. “We had to find our bigs inside, and we didn’t make a shot outside, so that really hurt us.”
Seck was visibly disappointed after the game, breaking down at the podium after he said his goal was to get SIU to the NCAA tournament.
Indiana State went into halftime with a 30-23 lead, and SIU kept the score close in the first part of the second half. Indiana State was up 51-46 with three minutes and 49 seconds left in the game, but Sycamore senior forward Carl Richard turned the ball over after a violation on an in-bounds play from the baseline.
SIU turned the ball right back as Indiana State sophomore guard Jake Odum stole Bocot’s in-bounds pass, and the Sycamores finished the game on an 15-5 run.
“We did weather their storm a little bit,” Odum said. “We’ve learned a little bit over the year. We’ve let some slip away in conference.”
Odum finished with a game-high 17 points and eight rebounds.
Indiana State hit 12-of-12 from beyond the arc in its last match-up with SIU Feb. 11, but they only hit 3-of-7 Thursday. The Sycamores were 21-of-46 from the field.
SIU finished the game shooting 18-of-50 from the field and 3-of-12 from beyond the arc.
“I’m a defensive-minded guy. We’ve worked more on shooting than I’ve ever done, ever,” coach Chris Lowery said. “To not reap any benefits from it, that’s what was disappointing.”
With the season officially over, Bocot said the Salukis have a lot to look forward to the talented crop of underclassmen on the team.
“They just (have) to keep their head up. They’re young, they have a lot of growing to do,” Bocot said. “But they’re great players. I love the freshman class. They work hard and do everything right.”
As for Lowery, he said the speculation about his job status caused anxiety with the team during the season, and that his future with the program is out of his hands.