CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP)—Darren Brooks said the No. 20 Southern Illinois Salukis are not clock watchers.
In a game that started at 11 p.m. because of television, the Salukis overcame a sluggish first half to beat Hawaii 66-62 on Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 9,628 at SIU Arena.
Brooks scored 18 points, including a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left, to lead Southern Illinois (22-2). Brad Korn added 10 points, helping the Salukis hike their winning streak to 14 games.
“It don’t matter what time it is,” Brooks said. “We’re going to come out here and play regardless. We went over to Europe last summer and the time zone is different over there.”
Southern Illinois coach Matt Painter said his players were tight in the beginning but adjusted as the game went on.
“There’s no doubt the guys were excited,” Painter said. “That was something I talked about before the game. I said we can’t get emotionally drunk and get out there and force the issue.”
Phil Martin scored 20 points for Hawaii (17-7). Jeff Blackett added 16 points and Michael Kuebler scored 14.
Hawaii led by seven points twice early in the second half before Southern Illinois tied it at 45 with 14:32 left. The teams then were tied twice, the last time at 51-51.
“Maintaining our poise was a key,” Painter said. “Keeping our poise and not trying to hit a home run but keeping battling and going after it and doing the little things enabled us to win the game.”
Southern Illinois went on an 8-0 run to take its largest lead of the game, 59-51 with 7:57 to play. LaMar Owen began the run by making a layup on a pass from Josh Warren.
“This was a winnable game for us,” said Hawaii coach Riley Wallace, a native of nearby Jerseyville, Ill., who had about 70 family members and friends in attendance rooting for the Rainbow Warriors. “They just wouldn’t let us.”
Blackett scored four points on a basket and two free throws to cut the Southern Illinois lead to 60-59 with 2:11 left.
“We were able to get close but that was it,” Blackett said. “We just made too many mistakes. You’d like to win games like this.”
Nursing a 62-60 lead, Brooks made a long 3-pointer to give the Salukis a five-point cushion.
“I just know how to step it up,” Brooks said. “A lot of guys on the team look to me to make plays at certain times of the game and I just try to make them.”
Southern Illinois outrebounded Hawaii 34-33. Hawaii had 24 turnovers while Southern Illinois made 18. Hawaii went 16-for-19 from the free-throw line, while Southern Illinois was just 5-for-11.
The Rainbow Warriors led 38-35 at halftime.
Martin hit two free throws and followed with a field goal that began a 11-0 run for the Rainbow Warriors with 10:55 left in the first half. That spree gave Hawaii a 23-16 lead with 8:36 left in the half.
Brooks connected on a 15-foot jumper to snap a 4-minute scoreless stretch for Southern Illinois. Hawaii maintained its lead for the rest of the half.
“We had stretches where we couldn’t put the ball in the basket,” Painter said, “but we kept our poise. In the first half, you have to give Hawaii credit.”
The game marked the second year Southern Illinois hosted a Bracket Buster game that was televised on ESPN. Last year, the Salukis beat Wisconsin-Milwaukee 66-64 on a basket at the buzzer.