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#24 Saint Mary's Falls To Southern Illinois On The Road 71-56

Dec. 12, 2007

Southern Illinois - 71
#24 Saint Mary's - 56

Carbondale, IL - Bryan Mullins scored a game-high 24 points to lead the Southern Illinois Salukis to a 71-56 win over the No. 24-ranked Saint Mary's men's basketball team on Tuesday night from the SIU Arena. The Gaels entered the game ranked 24th in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls, which were released on Monday.

Saint Mary's (7-1) rallied from a 19-point second half deficit to get back to within three points with six minutes left in the game. The Gaels could not finish off the comeback for the second straight game and gave up a 16-4 run over the final six minutes to lose by 16.

Southern Illinois (4-3) did an outstanding job on the glass, as the Salukis outrebounded the Gaels 39-24 overall. Where SIU did most of its damage was on the offensive end, pulling down 20 offensive boards. Those offensive rebounds resulted in 20-second chance points for SIU, which made the difference in the outcome of the game. Including the win over the Gaels, SIU has won 81 of its last 85 game played at the SIU Arena.

Mullins was also a big difference for the Salukis as he made big shots at key moments. After scoring seven points in the first half, Mullins scored 17 second-half points. After Omar Samhan hit a jumper to make the score 58-54 in favor of the Salukis, Mullins answered by scoring the next nine points of the game and putting the game out of reach.

Saint Mary's opened the game by making its first five shots and ended up making 19 of a season-low 40 shots. In addition to the struggles to get off good shots, SMC made a season-low three shots from behind the arc, shooting 23.1 percent on 3-of-13 shooting.

Patrick Mills, who scored 11 points while being in foul trouble most of the game, led SMC. Diamon Simpson, who fouled out of the game with 4:49 remaining, and Tron Smith ended the game with 10 points each. When Simpson collected his fifth foul, the Gaels trailed SIU 56-52.

Southern Illinois scored the first basket of the game before Samhan and Mills put the Gaels ahead 4-2 early. After the game was tied at 10-10, SIU used an 8-2 run to collect a six-point lead at the 11:40 mark of the first half. The SIU first-half lead would reach 24-14 at the 8:33 mark, following back-to-back low-post buckets by Falker.

Saint Mary's cut into the Salukis advantage following a 3-pointer by Carlin Hughes and a free throw by Yusef Smith to get as close as six (28-22) with 4:55 left in the first half. Following the quick 4-0 spurt by the Gaels, SIU closed the first half with an 8-2 run to take a 36-24 lead into the lockerroom.

SMC opened the second half with a 3-pointer by Diamon Simpson, but the Salukis answered with a three by Joshua Bone and a pair of free throws by Bryan Mullins to open a 14-edge. Ian O'Leary converted a three-point play to get the Gaels back within 12, but a 10-2 run by SIU had SMC trailing by 19 (51-32) with 13:49 left to play.

During the next 2:39, Saint Mary's played their way back into the game by scoring the next eight points. The run included a three-point play by Tron Smith, two free throws by Simpson, and a 3-pointer by Patrick Mills. SMC cut the deficit to single digits (53-44) when Simpson made a lay up at the 8:35 mark. The Saint Mary's 12-0 run ended with a Matt Shaw lay up at the 7:05 mark to give SIU a 55-46 lead.

The Gaels' 19-2 run extended over a period of 7:14, and SMC closed the deficit to 55-52 with 5:56 remaining in the contest. That would be as close as Saint Mary's would get, as the Salukis used an 8-2 run over the next 2:40 to extend its advantage to 63-54 with just over three minutes remaining.

The final dagger by SIU came when Mullins scored a spinning jumper from eight feet with 1:38 remaining in the game. SIU ended the game with a 13-2 run over the final 4:03 to win by 15 points. The last basket for Saint Mary's came with 25 second remaining and was scored by Tron Smith.

Saint Mary's will return to action on Thursday, December 20 when the Gaels travel to Honolulu, Hawaii for the 2007 Rainbow Classic. The Gaels will open the three-game tournament against Tulane with the tip-off time scheduled for 5:30 PM HST.