SIUE continues to roll; breaks program Division I win record – The Edwardsville Intelligencer

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SIUE’s Damarco Minor runs offense against Lindenwood during an Ohio Valley Conference game on Saturday inside the First Community Arena in Edwardsville.
SIUE’s Ray’Sean Taylor draws contact on a layup attempt against Lindenwood during an Ohio Valley Conference game on Saturday inside the First Community Arena in Edwardsville.
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville guard Damarco Minor knew the Cougars’ program was ready to start making history before the season started.
“I kind of knew. Everybody wanted to work in the summer,” Minor said. “We were working. I feel like if you put in the work, you’re going to get the outcomes you want.”
At 14-5, SIUE is off to its best start since competing at the Division I level in 2008. The Cougars have won four straight games and seven of their last eight, and sit atop the Ohio Valley Conference standings at 5-1 in league play.
The previous Division I program win-record for SIUE was 12 in in 2014-2015. 
The Division I record-breaking 13th win came at Eastern Illinois on Thursday, which was then followed by a 68-58 win over Lindenwood on Saturday in front of a season-high crowd of 1,839 at SIUE’s First Community Arena.
Before being at SIUE, Minor led South Suburban College to a 33-0 season and the school’s first NJCAA Division II National Championship. He was also named the NJCAA Division II Player of the Year.
After making history at South Suburban College, Minor wanted to be a part of the history that he knew SIUE was about to make.
“That’s the goal always,” Minor said, “to make some history and make some impact on a program. But I already knew coming in that it was going to happen. We just got to stay true to who we are, keep our head down and keep going.”
While Minor is second on the team in points (12.6 per game), he was quick to give credit to fellow guard Ray’Sean Taylor after the Cougars’ win over Lindenwood on Saturday.
“He needs more credit,” Minor said. “He’s coming off two ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries and he’s still performing. A lot of people can’t do that. A lot of people would’ve folded.”
Taylor, Collinsville High School’s all-time leading scorer, leads SIUE at 13.9 points per game.
After tearing his right ACL during summer workouts in 2020 before his freshman season, Taylor returned and was a finalist for the Macy Award (National Freshman of the Year) during the 2021-2022 season but missed the final 11 games of the season with a second ACL tear in the same knee.
Barone, like Minor, was quick to credit Taylor’s recovery to play during this historic season, especially since his second ACL tear came during a brutal COVID schedule that SIUE played.
“They continue to get on the bus,” Barone said. “What we did, no one understands. We kept getting on the bus for 19 games in 42 days. People are getting sick of me saying that. I don’t care. I’m not taking that accomplishment away from them. I believe in the kind of character and toughness here because that was really hard physically and mentally.”
Because of that togetherness through those times, the wins have been more meaningful.
“I want to win with these guys,” Barone said. “These guys have picked me up and lifted me in my most difficult time. They’ve had my back.”
The rest of the Cougars showed their abilities on Saturday. Forward DeeJuan Pruitt, who averages 12 points per game, was double-teamed all game and held to just five points, but finished with a game-high 13 rebounds.
Shamar Wright added 11 points and seven rebounds, while Minor finished one rebound short of his fourth double-double of the season.
“There’s a lot of belief in these guys,” Barone said.
SIUE will be back in action at First Community Arena against Morehead State at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and again against Southern Indiana at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The Cougars have six more home games left this season before the start of the OVC Tournament from March 1-4.


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