For most of the season I’ve harped on the play of the Redhakws guards. Tonight, the guards came through in a big way, as Southeast Missouri escapes another tight division game at home, 86-84 over Austin Peay.
Foul trouble held Southeast big man Tyler Stone to just 23 minutes in the game, as Stone fouled out with 7:50 left to play, and the Redhawks down four. SEMO would be down six with just under six minutes to play, before A.J. Jones helped spark a 16-2 run over the next five minutes. The Redhawks, who have struggled at the line all year, hit 16-19 from the charity stripe in the second half, holding off a late rally by the Governors for their second OVC win.
Stone, the Redhawks leading scorer, was held under 10 points for the first time since the Redhawks season opener. Instead, the Redhawks got 14 points from Lucas Nutt, 16 from Jones, and 19 from Corey Wilford, who all shot better than 50% from the field in the win.
Their efforts were needed to hold off career nights from forward Will Triggs and Travis Betran. Triggs scored 29 points on 14-17 shooting from the field, bested by one point by Betran thanks in part to 6-10 shooting behind the arc. Triggs also added a game-high 11 rebounds, giving him his first double-double since November of last season.
The win is the second straight home win for the Redhawks that proved to be much closer than many expected. Stone’s foul trouble and 1-8 shooting from the field was a contributing factor in tonight’s matchup, but there’s some concern that the Redhawks, who allowed Austin Peay to shoot 53% from the field on the night, aren’t as solid as many, myself included, expected them to be. Had the Redhawks struggled at the free throw line tonight, as we’ve seen in the past, it’s very possible that the Governors would have left Cape Girardeau with a win that would easily be considered a upset. Despite those concerns, SEMO is now 2-0 in the OVC, one of only two teams in the Division who survived the first week without a conference loss.
When you shoot better than 50% from the field, and have a heroic night from not one, but two starters, a loss is generally hard to swallow. Anthony Campbell added 11 points, but the rest of the team combined to be just 5-15 from the field. The bench provided just 8 of Austin Peay’s 82 points tonight, despite four players playing 9+ minutes. They proved tonight they have talent, but continue to struggle in late game scenarios, something that has been a problem for much of the season.
SEMO has their biggest test of the young conference season on Saturday, as they host rival Murray State. Austin Peay travels to UT Martin in a matchup of conference winless teams.