Jack Montague added 12 points for the Bulldogs (3-1).
Sean O'Brien scored a career-high 19 points for the Salukis (1-3).
Neither team shot well. Yale made 18 of 49 shots for 36.7 percent, including just 5 of 21 from the arc (23.8 percent). Southern Illinois was 19 of 53 from the field for 35.8 percent and a dismal 2 of 11 from 3-point range (18.2 percent). The difference proved to be at the free-throw line where the Bulldogs made 12 of 19 to the Salukis' 6 of 10.
Yale took the lead for good on Makai Mason's basket with 11:36 left and Sears scored five straight points for a seven-point lead. The lead reached 10 on Sears' basket at 5:49.
The game was part of the Men Against Breast Cancer Classic.