ST. LOUIS — Deion Lavender scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds to help lead ninth-seeded Southern Illinois past eighth-seeded Missouri state 55-48 in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament on Thursday night.
Anthony Beane and Sean O’Brien each added 10 points for the Salukis (12-20), who will play top-seed Wichita State on Friday. Thursday was the fifth time in six years the Salukis have played in an opening round "play-in game." They are 3-4 overall in the first round.
After Missouri State’s Dorrian Williams hit two free throw to cut the Southern Illinois lead to 45-43 with 3:20 to play, the Salukis scored the next five, highlighted by and O’Brien 3-pointer, to push the back to seven and put the game away.
Austin Ruder scored 17 to lead the Bears (11-20), who shot just 35 percent from the field and turned the ball over 16 times.