Falker lifts Southern Illinois over EvansvilleFeb 25, 2007 - 5:55 AM CARBONDALE, Illinois (Ticker) -- Southern Illinois had little to play for and it showed.
Randal Falker scored a career-high 30 points to lead the 14th-ranked Salukis to a 76-69 Missouri Valley Conference victory over Evansville.
Southern Illinois (25-5, 15-3 MVC), which had already clinched the league's regular season crown and the No. 1 seed in the postseason tournament, extended its winning streak to 11 games.
The upset-minded Aces shot 69 percent in the first half but couldn't contain the 6-7, 235-pound Falker, who scored 18 points in the opening 20 minutes and finished 13-of-15 from the floor.
"(Evansville) straight-up zoned and tried to guard him with the middle guy in the zone," Salukis head coach Chris Lowery said. "We exploited that all night."
Still, he Salukis couldn't shake Evansville (14-16, 6-12) and actually fell behind, 44-43, just over four minutes into the second half.
Southern Illinois responded with a 14-2 run to take a 57-46 lead on senior guard Jamaal Tatum's jumper with 8:49 to play and matched its largest lead, 70-58, with 3 1/2 minutes to play.
Evansville charged back as Jason Holsinger and Matt Webster each connected from the arc in an 8-0 run to pull within 70-66 with 2:03 to play.
Tatum finally stopped the momentum with a jumper and classmate Tony Young added a pair of free throws as the Salukis beat Evansville for the sixth straight time and improved to 53-1 in league play since the 2001-2002.
Young finished with 17 points and Tatum 15 to help Southern Illinois shoot 52 percent (26-of-50) on Senior Night.
"We don't have good fans, we have great fans," Tatum said. "I'm glad they support us and they could share this with us."
Webster scored 20 points to lead the Aces, who shot 53 percent (20-of-38).
"We shot the ball well, but we didn't get very many shots," Evansville coach Steve Merfeld said. "That's what they do."
- NCAA BB
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
EVANSVILLE 33 36 69
SOUTHN ILLINOIS (14) 39 37 76 FINAL
Feb 24 10:51 PM
- NCAA BB
SOUTHN ILLINOIS (14) 39 HALFTIME
Feb 24 9:30 PM
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