Salukis Survive UNI--MVC Semifinals Bound
ST. LOUIS -- The Basketball Salukis were embarrassed by their trip Cedar Falls last week that resulted in a 19-point loss to Northern Iowa--a rare clunker in the second half of the season.
The Dawgs took full advantage of their shot at redemption, eliminating the Panthers 63-58 in the MVC quarterfinals Friday night.
The SIU/UNI game was the most anticipated matchup of the MVC quarters, but for a while it looked like a mismatch. The sixth seeded Salukis dominated the final six minutes of the first half, closing on a 15-0 run to lead 36-18 at the break.
Desmar Jackson was fantastic for SIU. After getting named to the All-MVC second team earlier in the week, Jackson dominated the first half hitting seven of his nine shots, including all three from three point range. He had 20 points, eight rebounds, and four steals by half. After the game, Jackson would downplay that he had something to prove to those that left him off the first team--although the performance made it difficult to believe there are six better players in the league.
After the Salukis extended their lead to 19 early in the second half, Northern Iowa switched to a triangle and two defense which stymied SIU. Panthers coach Ben Jacobson had Jeremy Morgan shadow Jackson all over the floor while Wes Washpun did the same to Anthony Beane. The other three UNI defenders stayed in the lane, daring somebody else from SIU to beat them.
The move paid off for a while. UNI went on a 28-9 run to tie the game at 52 with three and a half minutes to play.
Freshman Bola Olaniyan answered with a rebound bucket and foul. Olaniyan's three-point play put the Salukis back in front to stay, but not without some anxious moments.
After UNI cut it to 58-56 with 48 seconds to go on a bucket by Washpun, SIU freshman Sean O'Brien sent a long pass down the court that was destined for out of bounds and a turnover. Somehow, Jackson tracked the ball down, and with a leaping save, set up Beane for a layup that all but sealed SIU's win.
Jackson finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and six steals. Beane finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.
Seth Tuttle tallied 15 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in a losing effort.
With the win, the Salukis advance to the MVC semifinals for the first time since 2007 where they will face second seeded Indiana State at 4:00 Saturday. The two teams split their regular season meetings, with each winning on their home floors.
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