Bradley holds on to beat Men's Basketball, 69-66

    Desmar Jackson scored 21 points.

    Desmar Jackson scored 21 points.
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    Jan. 15, 2013

    By Tom Weber

    Final Stats |  Photo Gallery 

    PEORIA, Ill. - Four players scored in double figures for Bradley, which held off a late rally by Southern Illinois to win, 69-66, on Tuesday night in Peoria.

    The Braves (11-7, 3-3) snapped a three-game losing streak and swept the season series from the Salukis (8-9, 1-5) for the first time since the 2000-01 season.

    In a back-and-forth game, the score was tied, 56-56, with 6:35 remaining. Then Bradley pulled away with a decisive 10-2 run that included clutch 3-pointers by Dyricus Simms-Edwards and Walt Lemon Jr., who finished with 18 and 16 points, respectively, to lead the Braves.

    "We played the numbers -- Lemon is shooting 20 percent, Simms is shooting in the 20s," SIU head coach Barry Hinson said. "That's what you have to do when you're a bunch of little peckerwoods out there and you're small. We weren't going to let Simms or Lemon beat us on the penetration. We just said if they rise up and make a three, so be it, and those little stinkers made two of them back-to-back."

    Trailing by eight with less than three minutes to go, Southern made a late run. When Desmar Jackson grabbed an offensive rebound off his own missed shot and put it back in, SIU had closed the gap to 67-66 with 23 seconds remaining.

    Southern sent Lemon Jr. to the free throw line where he put Bradley up, 69-66, and the Salukis had one possession left with a chance to tie. Kendal Brown-Surles was unable to get a clean look and the ball was deflected out of bounds with 3.0 seconds on the clock. Bradley head coach Gene Ford elected not to foul, and Jackson missed an off-balance 3-point shot as the clock expired.

    "With where the ball was, I thought we could get them bottled in and we got a good shot-contest on it," said Ford. "Obviously, if it goes in, I'd be in here sick to my stomach, but I'm not a big proponent of fouling automatically in that situation. If they had the ball out front with eight seconds to go, it's a little different."

    Hinson said his team should have gotten off a better shot sooner.

    "We executed it to perfection and Kendal, for whatever reason, didn't pull the trigger," Hinson said. "I knew what they were going to do (defensively) and I mean we had a good look."

    He stood by his decision to run the initial play for Brown-Surles, instead of Jackson, who already had 21 points in the game.

    "We did a dribble hand-of with Dez, and if they switched, it was to go back to Kendal," Hinson explained. "I think Kendal Brown-Surles is our best 3-point shooter. When he's in rhythm, that's the guy I have no problems with him taking and I have confidence in him taking the 3-point shot."

    Jackson, who was coming off 28 and 29-point outings in his last two games, became the first Saluki player to score 20 or more points in three-consecutive games since Kent Williams recorded four-straight 20-plus games in 2001-02. Teammate Jeff Early added 17 points and 11 rebounds -- his sixth double-double of the season -- and made 8-of-9 shots from the field. The Salukis shot 55 percent from the field.

    "Southern Illinois played at a high level," said Ford. "There were a lot of defensive breakdowns for us, but there were a lot of one-on-one shots where they just took it. Jeff Early or Jackson one-on-one jumped up and made a shot. You have to tip your cap to those two guys -- they played about as well as they are going to play most nights."

    The game was a rematch of a contest 12 days ago in Carbondale, in which Bradley rallied to win by six.

    "It's hard to beat a team twice," Ford said. "We caught them at a tough time. They played their best two games back-to-back and we played our two worst."

    Tonight, the Braves welcomed back Will Egolf, who missed the last five games due to a suspension, and the 6-foot-8 big man produced 11 points and blocked four shots.

    "Will's energy makes a difference," Ford said. "He's a vocal guy, he talks a lot, guys like him and he has a demeanor about him that's uplifting."

    Bradley out-rebounded SIU, 29-26, and pulled down 16 offensive rebounds. Hinson said his team's lack of size puts it at a consistent disadvantage.

    "The only time I thought we played a winnable game was Benedictine-Springfield," he said. "We are the underdog in every game we play from here on out. I'm disappointed that we got beat, but I'm also happy with how our guys battled and played their tails off and gave us an opportunity to win the ballgame."