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Southeast salvages win in Chicago tournament
The Redhawks rallied to beat Longwood 82-78 on Saturday.
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. -- The atmosphere that greeted Southeast Missouri State and Longwood for their final game in the Chicago Invitational Challenge could best be described as sterile.
There were approximately 30 fans in the 10,000-seat Sears Centre for Saturday's 11:30 a.m. tipoff.
And during the first half, Southeast's performance was an even match for the lethargic gathering.
"We just couldn't get anything going in the first half," senior swingman David Johnson said.
But the Redhawks finally woke up, rallying from a 10-point halftime deficit to claim an 82-78 victory.
By game's end, about 100 spectators had made their way into the arena as Southeast salvaged one win in the tournament.
The Redhawks, who unofficially finished seventh in the eight-team event, evened their record at 3-3 and bounced back from Friday's double-overtime loss to Coppin State.
"It's always great to win," said Southeast coach Scott Edgar, whose squad went 1-3 in the tournament, including road losses to Xavier and Illinois State.
Southeast suffered through a rough first half Saturday, shooting 31.8 percent from the field, committing 13 turnovers and allowing the Lancers to shoot 51.7 percent.
Longwood, a first-year Division I program, carried a 39-29 lead into the break.
"Coach left us in the locker room by ourselves [at halftime]," senior forward Brandon Foust said. "We talked about it. ... We just came out with a lot of energy."
Added Johnson of the halftime break: "We were upset. ... We just had a mini pep rally."
The Redhawks turned things around at the outset of the second half, using a flurry of fast-break baskets and put-backs to grab control.
Southeast outscored Longwood 21-4 over the opening 6:30 of the period.
"When we started the second half and made 12 of our first 14 shots, it was [because of] our defense," Edgar said.
Foust's fast-break layup 5:13 into the final half put Southeast ahead 44-43 and marked the Redhawks' first lead since 6-5 in the game's opening minutes.
The Redhawks twice built their advantage to 13 points midway through the period and held off the Lancers (2-5) down the stretch.
Longwood got within one point three times in the late going, but unlike Friday, this time Southeast had answers, the biggest being sophomore point guard Roderick Pearson's 3-pointer with 27 seconds left that put the Redhawks up 80-76.
"That shot wasn't necessary at the time, but I was open and it felt pretty good. Luckily it went in," Pearson said.
Pearson matched his career high by scoring a season-high 22 points. He played 38 minutes in bouncing back from Friday's foul-plagued performance that saw him play only 16 minutes before fouling out.
Foust, Southeast's leading scorer last year, had a season-high 19 points. He hit 8-of-10 field-goal attempts, including 5-of-5 in the second half.
"Coach has been wanting me to play like a senior," said Foust, who added five rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocks. "I needed to step up."
Also scoring in double figures for the Redhawks was junior college transfer swingman Jaycen Herring, who shot 6-of-8 and had a season-high 15 points to go along with four steals.
Johnson added nine points and matched Pearson with five assists. Sophomore Calvin Williams contributed eight points and tied Foust for the team rebounding lead with five.
"We still need to work on a lot of stuff, but we had to make up for yesterday," said Johnson, who added that the Redhawks were still upset over squandering late leads in regulation and the first overtime against Coppin State.
Southeast shot 70 percent in the second half and finished at 53.8 percent for the game (28-of-52).
Longwood cooled off to 36.4 percent in the final period and wound up at 43.5 percent (27-of-62).
"We knew we needed to come out of here 1-1 [on the weekend]," Pearson said.