Tyler Stone leads the Redhawks charge, scoring 24 points on 11-12 shooting, as Southeast Missouri rides a first-half run to a 78-68 win over Eastern Illinois. SEMO cools off from three, if only slightly, hitting 8-20 int the win.
|Eastern Illinois||Southeast MIssouri|
|FG (%)||24-52 (46.2%)||40-55 (54.5%)|
|3FG (%)||7-18 (38.9%)||8-20 (40.0%)|
|FT (%)||13-13 (100%)||10-14 (71.4%)|
|REB (O/D)||25 (5/20)||31 (8/23)|
|POINTS:||Josh Piper - 19||Tyler Stone - 24|
|REBOUNDS:||Alex Austin - 8||Corey Wilford, Tyler Stone - 7|
|ASSISTS:||Austin Akers - 5||Lucas Nutt - 12|
Provided By Southeast Missouri Athletics
Tyler Stone scored a game-high 24 points and pulled down seven rebounds off the bench to lead sixth-seeded Southeast Missouri (17-15) to a 78-68 victory over Eastern Illinois (11-21) Wednesday night in the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
Southeast advances to the quarterfinals to meet third-seeded Eastern Kentucky on Thursday at 8 p.m., CT.
“I thought we started strong again and shot the ball well,” said Southeast head coach Dickey Nutt. “We had 22 assists and I’m pleased with the way we are sharing the basketball and creating shots.”
The Redhawks opened OVC Tournament play with a win three years in a row for the first time in school history and secured their first winning season since 2004-05.
Southeast’s trend of hot shooting continued, as the Redhawks put together yet another strong start to set the tone early.
Six players out of the Redhawks seven-man rotation scored in the game’s opening 20 minutes, which saw Southeast shoot 63 percent (17-of-27) from the field and 50 percent (6-of-12) from three-point range.
After Alex Austin made five-straight free throws to tie the game at 16-16 with just under 11 minutes to play, Southeast answered with a 13-5 run to build an eight-point advantage.
Corey Wilford (2) and Marland Smith combined for half of the Redhawks three-pointers in that stretch which ended on Stone’s dunk, giving Southeast a 29-21 lead with 6:14 remaining.
The Redhawks later closed out the half on a 7-0 jaunt in the final 3:03, with Nick Niemczyk making a three and both Johnson and Jones throwing down dunks to get Southeast a 42-29 lead at the intermission.
Southeast never let its lead dip below double-digits in the second half.
The Panthers managed to pull to within 10 points on several occasions, but that was as close as they would get.
The Redhawks took their largest lead when Nino Johnson made a free throw to make it 55-39 at the 11:42 mark before putting the win on ice.
Stone shot a near-perfect 11-of-12 from the field and 2-of-3 at the free throw line en route to matching his OVC Tournament single-game high. He also scored 24 against Tennessee Tech in the quarterfinals last season. Stone scored double figures in his fifth-consecutive game and has shot a combined 82.7 percent (24-of-29) from the field in his previous three contests off the bench.
Wilford and Smith followed with 14 points apiece. Wilford made 6-of-14 field goals and had seven rebounds, while Smith went 5-of-9 from the floor and 4-of-7 from behind the arc.
Lucas Nutt contributed a season and career-high 12 assists, as well.
As a team, Southeast shot 54.5 percent (30-of-55), scoring 24 of its points from three-point land (8-of-20). The Redhawks also shot 10-of-14 free throws and turned the ball over just eight times.
Josh Piper scored 19 points and Austin added 17 to lead EIU.
What’s Being Said
His best night is a while, much needed for the Redhawks:
Stone is making a statement tonight. #ovc
— Brett Richardson (@bdrichardson) March 7, 2013
No. And they’re not afraid to say it, either:
SEMO shoots 55% to beat EIU 78-68 tonight. Does anybody in the #OVC really want to play SEMO right now?!?
— Jeff Bidwell (@AKAJeffBidwell) March 7, 2013
Outside of about a five-minute stretch in the first half, two of the hottest teams in the OVC played about as even of a game as you can get. Too bad for the Panthers that during their 5-minute cold spell, the Redhawks were anything but.
Eastern Illinois really ran their offense well in the second half, but couldn’t get any stops to climb back in the game. And it wasn’t backbreaking threes, most of those came to keep SEMO in the game early. It was a steady dose of Stone, who the Panthers had no answers for. Multiple alley-oops, slamming home putbacks, and outside of a hook in the lane Stone would have had a perfect night shooting. I would wager at least 10 of his 11 made field goals were from within 2-feet.
If you’re in the bottom half of the bracket, and not at least a little bit worried about playing the Redhawks, you’re mad. This team has improved ten-fold in the past month, and is playing the caliber of basketball many of us expected all year. Are they a threat to win the Tourney from the first round? Maybe, but they’ve got a tough road. And as a team that relies on jump shooting, I worry more about their legs than some other teams.
As for Eastern Illinois, they simply ran into a hot team. They played better than the score shows, and really should be commended on how much they improved throughout the season. Head coach Jay Spoonhour even said after the game his team was “bad” in December. They were anything but in March. And with a good talent pool returning, EIU could be a team to watch out for in the coming years.