Feb. 2, 2011
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Drake put on a shooting clinic on Wednesday night at SIU Arena, making 16-of-24 shots from 3-point range in a 65-44 win over Southern Illinois.
Six-different players made treys for the Bulldogs (9-14, 4-8), including five by Rayvonte Rice, who finished with a game-high 23 points.
In contrast, the Salukis (10-13, 4-8) were 0-for-8 from outside the arc, marking the first time in 439 games that the team did not make a 3-pointer. The last time Southern failed to make a triple was on Feb. 22, 1997, versus Evansville.
For the second year in a row, the Bulldogs swept the season series from Southern and they now have won the last five meetings. After Drake made 7-of-11 3-pointers in the first half, Drake coach Mark Phelps sensed something special was happening.
"They kind of caught fire and fed off of their teammates," said the third-year head coach, whose team won its first conference road game of the season. "Tonight, we worked and made the extra pass, and sometimes the extra-extra pass. I think that helped us to get open looks, and our guys did a good job of actually making the open shots."
The 16 made 3-pointers were the second-most allowed in school history by SIU, and Saluki head coach Chris Lowery lamented what he called the worst defensive effort of his tenure as head coach.
"We had some guys lay down and quit," Lowery said. "It is our job now to get them back mentally."
Southern got off to a slow start offensively and trailed, 10-7, midway through the first half. That's when Rice made his first 3-pointer of the game, opening up the floodgates for his teammates, who followed with five more bombs before the half ended.
"We never leave people open like that," said Lowery, shaking his head.
The second half was more of the same. After the Salukis cut a seven-point halftime deficit to 29-26, the Bulldogs went on a 28-9 run, in which they made eight 3-pointers in a nine-minute span.
"There are guys in our locker room that know they didn't give their best effort," Lowery said. "That is how you want your locker room to be. Hopefully, now they will understand that just playing basketball is not good enough. You have to give blood, sweat and tears and be committed to each other and there has to be a trust factor."
Drake's game plan worked to perfection as it spread the floor on offense, often playing without a post player to negate Southern's size advantage.
"I didn't think we had a real advantage in screening and cutting in our offense," said Phelps. "So we decided to spread it out and use the dribble to get some more space and a bit more rhythm."
Southern was held to a season low in scoring, but forward Mamadou Seck did contribute 17 points -- one shy of his career-high.
Lowery said his team must play with more passion in the final four weeks of the season.
"The urgency has to come from within," he said. "We have been trying to push that button, find the urgency button -- outside of Seck and (Carlton) Fay, who play consistently hard and have done everything we asked them all year."