Southeast Missouri 79 Eastern Illinois 61
Southeast Missouri’s Tyler Stone scored a game-high 27 points to lead the REdhawks to a commanding 79-61 win over seventh-seeded Eastern Illinois (11-19) Wednesday night in the first round of the OVC Tournament.
Stone, who battled flu-like symptoms Tuesday, guided Southeast to its fifth win in a row as the Redhawks matched their longest winning streak of the season. Southeast also eliminated the Panthers for the second-straight year.
The Redhawks picked up their 18th win, marking just the fourth time they posted 18 or more victories in a season during their NCAA Division I era. Southeast last reached 18 wins in a season in 2000-01 (18-12).
“I thought the difference in tonight’s game was transition basketball and our bench,” said Southeast head coach Dickey Nutt. “I was pleased with how we played overall and was happy to get that first win under our belt.”
The Redhawks advance to the OVC Tournament quarterfinals for the fourth-straight year and will have a date with No. 3 Eastern Kentucky on Thursday at 8 p.m, CT. Southeast will look to repay the Colonels, who used a three-pointer by Glenn Cosey at the buzzer to slip past the Redhawks on Feb. 1.
While Stone turned in his fourth-straight double-double, the Redhawk reserves did their part by outscoring EIU’s bench, 24-0.
EIU scored the first four points of the game, but Southeast went on a 12-0 run to take an eight-point lead with 15:16 left in the first half. Darrian Gray scored his first points at an OVC Tournament on a three-pointer and Jarekious Bradley added five points to key the stretch.
The Redhawks later went scoreless for a 5:03 and the Panthers clawed their way back to pull ahead, 19-17, at the 7:20 mark.
Shortly after that, Southeast countered with Stone scoring five-straight points to kickstart a 19-6 run over the final 6:23. Stone followed his own jumper with a three-pointer and dropped in seven points. Antonius Cleveland also drove the baseline and threw down a one-handed dunk, and converted a three-point play on Southeast’s next possession to give the Redhawks a 39-27 halftime lead.
Southeast drained four three-pointers in the first 6:23 of the second half to help grow its lead to 20. Stone buried two, while Gray and Cleveland chipped in one apiece. Nino Johnson’s dunk then pushed the Redhawks lead to 59-39 with 12:37 on the clock.
The Redhawks led by as many as 22 on two occasions when Stone put down a dunk to make it a 63-41 game (11:09) and made a layup to put Southeast ahead, 74-52, with 4:15 remaining.
Southeast’s 18-point win was its largest in an OVC Tournament game since the Redhawks beat EIU, 78-51 (+21), in the first round of the 1999 Tourney.
Stone shot 11-of-17 from the field and matched a career-high 3-of-4 three-pointers. He also pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds, dished out one assist, had a steal and gathered three blocks. Stone has gone 44-straight games with 10 or more points.
The Redhawks shot 50 percent (31-of-62) on the night, including a .533 clip (16-of-30) in the second half. Defensively, Southeast held the Panthers under 40 percent (.373).
Tennessee Tech 74 SIU Edwardsville 67
Defense did the job throughout the first half, and balanced scoring combined with unselfish ball-handling took Tennessee Tech to the finish line as the Golden Eagles dispatched SIU Edwardsville, 74-67, Wednesday night in a first round game at the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
Senior point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas led the charge with 16 points and a career-high 11 assists, while three Golden Eagle veterans – Javon McKay, Dennis Ogbe and Dwan Caldwell – each contributed 10 points to the victory. In all, nine different players put digits in the scoring column to help Tech advance in the tourney.
The Golden Eagles had to withstand a determined Cougar charge down the stretch in which Tech’s double-figure lead shriveled to four points in the final minutes.
SIUE (11-20), making its first appearance in the OVC Tournament, saw its season come to a close.
The Golden Eagles got help from up-and-down the bench, in addition to the four in double figures. Shirmane Thomas added eight points and four assists, Matt Marseille had a perfect shooting night (2-for-2 from the field and the line) and chipped in with six points and four rebounds. Ladon Carter had six points on 3-for-3 shooting, and Jordan Johnson netted five points and dished out three assists. Caldwell led Tech with nine points, narrowly missing a double-double before drawing his fifth foul.
Tech finished the night with 20 assists on its 25 field goals, directly leading to a 58.1 percent effort from the floor (25-for-43).
Samarrippas matched his career-high with 11 assists, a mark he originally set while playing his freshman season at SMU. His court sense is what gave the Golden Eagles such balance in the scoring department, according to McKay.
“Jeremiah is just finding everybody really well right now,” McKay said. “I think it spreads our offense out a lot more and he has a lot to do with that.”
The defense limited SIUE to 25 percent shooting in the first half as Tech built a 38-22 lead by the intermission.
SIUE attacked the basket in the second half, earning an early 10-1 difference in fouls called against the Golden Eagles. The Cougars shot a crisp 53.6 percent from the field in the second half, but saw their perfect (6-for-6) free throw performance in the first half dip to 12-for-21 in the second half.
Kris Davis led SIUE with 19 points, while Rozell Nunn added 14 points and six rebounds and Donivine Stewart finished with 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals.
After leading by 16 at halftime, the Golden Eagles kept their margin in double digits for all but 20 seconds of the first 13-plus minutes of the second half.
Still up by 10 at 64-54 with 4:14 to play, Tech saw the lead dwindle to four points when SIUE went on a brief 6-0 run to make it 64-60 with 1:55 remaining. The run included turnovers by the Golden Eagles on three consecutive possessions, all while in the paint on the attack.
Samarrippas, who was charged with two of the miscues, hit a crucial 3-pointer with 1:31 to play to push the lead back to seven and give the Golden Eagles enough breathing room to finish the contest at the free throw line.
After Tech made just three of its first six charity tosses down the stretch, Ogbe snatched the biggest rebound of the night with 26 seconds left following a miss by Thomas. It was Tech’s first offensive rebound of the second half, and it allowed the senior from Munich to knock down two free throws and pry open the lead to nine.
The Golden Eagles move ahead to play No. 4 seed Morehead State Thursday at 6 p.m. Tech and Morehead split the season series, with the Golden Eagles claiming a 91-84 victory in Morehead just five night ago.