Big comeback leads Truman State mens basketball past Southern Indiana

The Truman men's basketball team overcame a 17-point first-half deficit to upset the 15th-ranked University of Southern Indiana 71-68 in overtime on Thursday night in Pershing Arena. Sophomore Andrew Vander Zwaag came off the bench to lead all scorers with a career-high 22 points.

The Bulldogs (16-4, 9-3 GLVC) got off to a sluggish start, allowing USI (16-4, 8-4 GLVC) to build a 35-18 lead with 4:33 to play in the opening half. However, from that point forward,

Truman's defensive intensity caused the Screaming Eagles fits, as a 13-0 run â?? capped by a Marek Bush put-back in the lane with 49 seconds to play in the half â?? drew the 'Dogs to within four at 35-31.

USI would score a last-second layup off Truman's eighth turnover of the half to carry a 37-31 lead into the intermission.

A quick 6-0 spurt to start the half by the host squad tied the game at 37 and set up for a true battle for the remainder of the contest.

The teams would be tied six more times the rest of the half, with neither team building more than a four-point cushion, including USI's final lead of the night at 62-58 with 1:48 to play in regulation.

Vander Zwaag would hit a three-pointer on the next possession to bring the 'Dogs within one, and, after back-to-back failed trips for each team and a free throw by USI,

Mike Carlson knotted the game at 63-all with a jumper in the lane with 28 seconds on the clock.

USI would call timeout to set up the final play, but the Screaming Eagles never got a great look and a wild shot caromed wide right, sending Truman to its second straight Thursday night overtime affair.

The Bulldogs never trailed in the extra frame, as Reed Mells and Carlson hit back-to-back buckets to put Truman on top 67-63.

Three free throws spread out among two possessions would bring USI within one at 67-66, but the Bulldog defense made three straight stops while the offense made four free throws to push the lead to 71-66 with seven seconds to play.

A quick lay-up by USI brought the deficit to three with 3.5 seconds on the clock, and a Bulldog turnover on the inbound set up one last shot for the nationally-ranked Eagles.

However, Carlson tipped the inbounds pass and a heaved attempt from 35 feet was well short, giving the Bulldogs their second win against a ranked opponent in as many seasons (at Washburn, Jan. 16, 2013).

For the game, Vander Zwaag took home top honors with 22 points in 32 minutes off the bench.

The redshirt sophomore went 7-of-13 from the floor, including a 5-of-11 mark from three-point range.

He also added a perfect 3-for-3 effort from the foul line and grabbed three rebounds.

Carlson added 15 points and was one rebound shy of a double-double, while Mells recorded 11 points and seven assists to go alongside just one turnover.

Cole Myers chipped in nine points and swiped a game-high three steals, while Bush finished his night with seven points and seven rebounds.

The Bulldogs held their own against the GLVC's top rebounding team, as USI â?? who entered the night averaging a +16.0 rebounding margin â?? only out-boarded the purple and white by one â?? 35-34.

Truman limited the Eagles to just five second-chance points and turned a dozen USI miscues into 13 points on the offensive end.

Truman shot 42% from the floor for the game and hit 8-of-20 three-pointers, while also finishing 13-of-17 from the foul line. USI â?? after shooting a blazing 57% in the first half â?? shot just 40% in the second and went only 1-of-7 in overtime to finish at 45% overall, including a 6-of-20 mark from distance.

The Screaming Eagles went just 6-of-12 from the charity stripe and were led by Aaron Nelson's 14 points and 16 rebounds.

The Bulldogs return to action on Saturday afternoon, hosting Bellarmine (Ky.) at 3 p.m. in Pershing Arena.

The Knights improved to 16-4 overall (8-4 GLVC) on the season with a 90-79 win at Quincy on Thursday evening.

Courtesy Truman State University