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'Hawks' troubles persist
Southeast's losing streak stretched to seven games with a 73-62 loss to Austin Peay.
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. -- Austin Peay's defense has not been up to its typical standards for much of the season, especially in recent games.
But Southeast Missouri State's anemic offense has allowed most defenses to shine -- and Austin Peay's 'D' got well against the Redhawks for the second time in less than three weeks Monday night, as the host Governors held on for a 73-62 victory.
The Redhawks, suffering their seventh straight loss, fell to 6-14 overall and 3-11 in the Ohio Valley Conference to remain 10th among 11 OVC squads. Austin Peay improved to 12-10 and 7-6.
"We didn't shoot the ball again. That's a stuck record," Southeast coach Gary Garner said.
Austin Peay coach Dave Loos would like to think his players had something to do with the Redhawks' continued offensive struggles.
The Govs entered play allowing an average of 73 points per contest, while opponents were shooting 45.8 percent from the field -- both well below the norm for one of the OVC's better programs in recent years.
And things had been even worse over the past five games, as the Govs had allowed at least 77 points in each while going 1-4.
But back on Jan. 14 in Cape Girardeau, Austin Peay limited Southeast to 33.3 percent shooting -- the Redhawks' season low in OVC play -- to win 63-56.
Monday night, Southeast shot 33.9 percent (20 of 59). The Redhawks entered the contest at 40.8 percent for the season.
"I was really pleased with our defense," Loos said. "We've been talking about that, but up until now it's just been talk."
Loos was particularly pleased with the defensive work the Govs did on senior guard Roy Booker, the OVC's leading scorer who hit up Austin Peay for 33 points during the earlier meeting.
Booker, facing a wave of defenders all night, wound up with 22 points, but he hit just 6 of 20 shots. And he had only two first-half points, hitting 1 of 8 shots, as Austin Peay built a commanding 35-19 lead.
"He's amazing," Loos said. "I think we've done about as good a job as we can on him."
Said Booker, who entered play averaging 22.5 points per game, "I feel like I let my teammates down in the first half. I think I forced more shots than I have in any game this year."
Despite losing again, the Redhawks showed plenty of spunk, especially after falling behind 48-25 early in the second half.
Booker's 3-pointer with 1:20 remaining pulled Southeast within 61-55, and junior guard Terrick Willoughby's 3-pointer with 25 seconds left made it 65-60.
Willoughby, who had a 3-point attempt rim out with 38 seconds left and Southeast behind 63-57, also missed two rushed 3-pointers with the score 65-60 and under 15 seconds left.
"That one was in and out. It could have been a different game," said Willoughby, who scored 11 points but shot just 4 of 15. "We fought back. I think it shows the heart we have."
Said Garner, "If that ball by Willoughby goes down, who knows what happens. It was all over the rim. You can't dig that big a hole, especially this team, but we fought our way back.
"You know how easy it is to give up in a game like this on the road? I'm just really proud of the effort."
With 9.6 seconds left and Southeast trailing 65-60, the Redhawks were called for a flagrant foul, which sent the Govs to the line for two shots and the ball. They made both free throws, which effectively sealed the victory.
Garner vehemently protested the flagrant ruling, and he ultimately was hit with a technical and ejected with 8.4 seconds remaining. The Govs made six more free throws before Southeast scored the game's final basket.
"I deserved the technical," said Garner, who indicated that he simply wanted to make his point known to the official who made the call. "By that time, the game was over."
Sophomore point guard Paul Paradoski added 11 points for Southeast. He hit 3 of 6 3-pointers, while Booker and Willoughby combined to go 6 of 22 from beyond the arc.
Senior guard Maurice Hampton led the Govs with 20 points and senior center Zac Schlader added 19 points.
The Redhawks were ahead 10-8 early, then Austin Peay used a 20-2 run to take control at 28-12. It was 35-19 at halftime, thanks in large part to 12 Southeast turnovers. The Redhawks had just four second-half turnovers.
"I think what hurt us the most were the turnovers in the first half," Garner said. "They got a lot of easy baskets off our turnovers."