SIUE player throws punch, sparks fight in loss to UT Martin in OVC tournament

DiJuan Pruitt of SIU Edwardsville's
SIU Edwardsville’s DiJuan Pruitt punched UT Martin’s Rifen Miguel in the face shortly before Thursday night’s break at the OVC. (AP/Jeff Roberson)

Things escalated Thursday night at the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.

Just minutes before halftime after an 81-75 loss to UT Martin SIU Edwardsville at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana, SIUE forward DiJuan Pruitt stepped back and punched UT Martin forward Reefen Miguel in the face.

The two walked across the court and looked into each other’s eyes. Until this point, the relationship between the two had been physical, but Pruitt’s escalation seemed to come out of nowhere.

UT Martin forward Jalen Myers came in and attempted to hit Pruitt but missed.

After officials separated the group and held them for more than 10 minutes, three were removed from the game. Miguel’s face was covered in blood as he left the court. according to the St. Louis mailing list.

UT Martin was leading by four points when the fight started. SIUE regained the lead shortly before the break and took a double-digit lead midway through the second period. The Cougars’ last field goal of the game came from a DeMarco Minor 3-pointer with 3:50 left and UT Martin finished the night 17-1 for a six-point victory.

Minor finished with 32 points and nine rebounds for SIUE after shooting 11 of 19 from the field. Lamar Wright added 22 points off the bench and was the only other Cougar to hit double figures in the loss.

Jordan Sears lost 33 points to lead the Skyhawks in the win, while Kobe Jeffries added 14 points off the bench. Miguel had seven points and two rebounds when he was ejected.

UT Martin will take on Tennessee Tech in the semi-finals of the OVC event on Friday night.


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