EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- No. 7 Southern Indiana won the first round of the 2011-12 “Battle for the Bridge” with a 72-57 victory against No. 2 Kentucky Wesleyan on Monday night. USI rises to 14-1 overall and 6-1 in the GLVC, while KWC drops to 14-1, 6-1 GLVC.

TOP 25 SCORES
No. 7 S. Indiana 72, No. 2 Ky. Wesleyan 57
No. 3 Bellarmine 64, No. 8 Northern Kentucky 60
No. 12 Bowie State 69, Livingstone 64
Complete Scoreboard

After 11 lead changes in the first five minutes of the game, the Screaming Eagles used a 9-0 surge to take a 21-13 advantage with 11:37 left in the first half and never looked back. The Eagles continued to build on the first half margin, leading by as many as 13 points before the Panthers clawed their way back to within eight points by halftime, 40-32.

KWC opened the final half by cutting the lead to 41-36, when USI quickly re-extended the margin to 12 points on lay-ups by junior guard Kenyon Smith and sophomore guard Lawrence Thomas and a three-point field goal by senior guard Brandon Hogg. The Panthers would cut the Eagles' lead to 48-42, with 13:00 remaining, but that would be as close as KWC would come.

USI systematically pushed the lead back to double-digits and maintained a 10-15 point lead through the final 10 minutes of the game. The Eagles' largest lead was 17 points, at 72-55, with 2:21 to play prior to the Panthers getting the final bucket of the game for the 72-57 final.

Hogg and Thomas topped the scoring column for USI with 16 points each, while senior forward Isaac McClure rounded out the double-figure scorers with 10 points. Smith dished out a game-high five assists and made three steals.