EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – A career night from junior forward Jalen Henry and a strong second half weren't enough to overcome a slow first half and a tough night at the free throw line. SIUE men's basketball fell to Stetson 80-72 at Vadalabene Center Wednesday.
The Cougars slipped to 4-5 for the season. The Hatters, who won their first road game of the year, improved to 5-6.
"Our effort, our focus and our intensity to start the game was the difference in my mind," SIUE Head Coach Jon Harris said. "It's not about offense. Sometimes your shot's not going fall. You still have to find a way to scratch and claw. I don't think we started the game with the right mindset."
Henry collected his first career double-double, scoring a career-best and game-high 28 points while hauling in a career-high 11 rebounds. The Springfield, Illinois product was 8 for 12 from the field and knocked down 11 of 14 free throws.
"He was one guy that was very good from start to finish," Harris said. "Jalen is a guy that is very capable on both ends. He has all the tools. It all came to a head for him tonight. I just hate that the other guys didn't come with him from start to finish."
Tre Harris was the only other SIUE player in double figures scoring. He scored 12 points.
SIUE connected on just six of 24 (25 percent) of its shots in the first half while Stetson was 14 for 31 (45.2 percent). The Cougars were just seven for 16 from the free throw line in the half.
"We missed a lot of open shots and that's disappointing," Harris added. "But the offense was not the deciding factor it was just a contributor."
The Hatters took advantage of eight Cougar turnovers in the first half to score nine points and carried a 37-20 advantage into the break.
"Something we talk about is ball control," Harris said. "You have to make better decisions with the ball. They weren't all forced turnovers."
The Cougars turned things around in the second half, shooting 47.2 percent (17-36) from the field and outscoring Stetson 52-43 in the period. The Cougars were 16-25 from the free throw line in the second half.
"Our guys fought and found a way to get back in the game," Harris said. "At that point you have to make your free throws."
After scoring only two points in the paint during the first half, SIUE scored 24 of its 52 second-half points from inside the lane.
"We played aggressive," Harris explained. "We played with more of an attack mentality."
Divine Myles led the Hatters with a double-double of 23 points and 14 rebounds. Derick Newton added 14 points. Luke Doyle (13 points) and Angel Rivera (12) also scored in double figures. Rivera added six assists.
SIUE remains at home to play host to Missouri Western State Saturday afternoon. Tip time is set for 2 p.m.