Feb. 11, 2009
By Tom Weber
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - Youth was served a lesson Wednesday night at Cedar Falls. A Southern Illinois team that features five first-year players in its eight-man rotation got off to a bad start and an even worse finish in an 81-55 loss at Northern Iowa.
After winning handily at Missouri State last Saturday, the Salukis (11-14, 6-8) were flustered by the league-leading Panthers (18-7, 12-2).
Southern missed eight of its first 10 shots and committed five turnovers, as UNI jumped out to a 16-6 lead.
"We weren't cut in, and that's my fault -- I couldn't get them ready to play," said Saluki head coach Chris Lowery. "We talked about it this morning at shoot-around, that this is not a field trip, it has to be a business trip. We have so many young guys that don't understand what it means to go on the road and be totally cut-in in an environment that's against you."
Meanwhile, the Panthers were cooly efficient, overcoming foul trouble by their starting front court of Jordan Eglseder and Adam Koch with 32 points off the bench. An off-night by starters Koch and Ali Farokhmanesh was offset by big performances from reserves Travis Ford and Lucas O'Rear, who combined to make 8-of-10 shots.
"They are the most disciplined team in our league," said Lowery. "Their parts are greater than any individual on their team."
Saluki forward Tony Boyle was Southern's most effective weapon, finishing with a career-high 20 points. However, SIU's four-man guard rotation scored only two points in the first half, as UNI took a 38-23 lead.
Behind a trio of 3-pointers by Justin Bocot, SIU closed the gap to 63-50 with six minutes remaining in the game. Then the wheels fell of for the Salukis, and their inexperience showed.
"Northern Iowa played, and we complained," said Lowery. "That's how we responded to our adversity, instead of being tough and hard-nosed, like they're taught."
"We turned on each other, and we argued with each other," Lowery said. "We did a lot of immature things today against a team that doesn't worry about anything but winning."
Northern Iowa had four players in double figures led by Eglseder's 17 points in just 15 minutes.
"They are a team where nobody cares about shooting, nobody cares about scoring, they only care about winning," Lowery said.