RICHMOND, Ky. – SIUE men's dropped to 0-2 in Ohio Valley Conference play, falling 78-61 on the road at Eastern Kentucky Thursday.
The Cougars fell to 5-11 overall. Eastern Kentucky evened its league record at 1-1. The Colonels are 8-9 overall.
SIUE built an eight-point advantage, leading 26-18 after a pair of free throws from Keenan Simmons with 9:59 to play in the first half. The Cougars knocked down nine of their first 15 attempts from the field (60 percent), but as it turned out a Tre Harris three-pointer with 10:36 to play before halftime was the last shot the Cougars would hit from the field until after the break.
SIUE missed its final 15 attempts in the first half, and EKU took a 37-30 lead into halftime.
"They went to a zone and it froze us," SIUE Head Coach Jon Harris said. "We quit moving the ball. We shot a lot of jump shots late in the first half and let them close the gap. We played a little too passive."
The Cougars missed their first four shots in the second half, collected only seven field goals for the second half and finished the game 29.6 percent (16-54) from the field.
Eastern Kentucky shot 57.7 percent (15-26) in the first half and finished the game at 50.9 percent (29-57). The Colonels got to the basket often, finishing with 54 points in the paint.
"I'm very disappointed honestly," Harris said. "That's something we talked about and worked on in practice leading up to this game. You can't give up that many points in the paint on the road and find a way to win."
The Colonels finished the game 0-15 from the three-point range.
"If you had told me that Eastern Kentucky wouldn't make a three and we'd lose by 17, I wouldn't have believed it."
The Colonels also won the battle of the boards, finishing the game with a 42-33 rebounding edge. After tying a season low with eight turnovers in its last game, SIUE turned the ball over just 10 times against EKU.
"We did a better job not turning the ball over, but what's alarming is that two games in a row we've been outrebounded between seven or nine," Harris added. "We have to do a better scratching and clawing and scrapping for loose rebounds."
Freshman Asante Gist scored a career-high 25 points to lead EKU. He was 6-12 from the field and 13-14 from the free throw line. Nick Mayo added 16 points.
"We've struggled all year containing the basketball," Harris said. "That's something we have to focus on. It's not lack of physical ability. It's mental concentration more than anything."
SIUE stays on the road to play at Morehead State Saturday afternoon. Tipoff is scheduled for 3:15 CT.