The SIU men's basketball team defense held the Lamar Cardinals to 29 percent shooting in the first half on Sunday and the Jonathan Wiley, Sean Lloyd tandem had 22 of the Salukis 35 second-half points to push them to victory.
In the first half, SIU players got down into their defensive stance and thwarted a Cardinal team that had been averaging 81 points per game. The Cardinals did well to score 22 points and only be behind by 14 at the break.
"This is the best defensive club I've had since I've been here at Southern," Saluki coach Barry Hinson said. "I told the team 'Isn't it fun when we just get out and guard? When you lose yourself in the game defensively?'"
Offensively, the Dawgs shot better than 53 percent in both halves. Lamar moved up to 44 percent for the second half and 38 percent for the game. That's better than their first half shooting disaster, but not enough to win against a determined Saluki squad.
It got a little hairy late in the second half when Lamar charged to within eight points of Southern with 4:05 to go in the game. But Wiley had a series of plays to squelch any Cardinal notion of a comeback.
First Wiley altered a Josh Nzeakor shot into a miss. Then Jonathan made a layup himself followed by a steal and dunk for two more. That made it 66-54 SIU with 3:32 to go in the game. Not enough time for much of a comeback.
Hinson was rather forgiving about his team's lapses in defense in the second half. He had a good explanation for his team allowing 39 points to the Cardinals.
"We were tired in the second half," Hinson said. "You're going to get tired playing as hard as we did all game."
Therefore, after only incurring five turnovers in the first 20 minutes of play, the Salukis had nine in the second half. And that's where the Cardinals accrued most of their points.
Lamar scored 23 of its 61 total points off SIU's 14 turnovers. Also, Lamar attempted 10 more shot attempts by outrebounding SIU on the offensive boards 15-6.
The Cardinals' Colton Weisbrod had 19 rebounds, six of which were on the offensive board.
For SIU, Sean Lloyd led the way with 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting. Southern only shot 33 percent from beyond the three-point line, but Lloyd hit two of four three attempts. Lloyd also had five assists, three rebounds and two steals.