Drew's late shot lifts Redhawks

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Southeast men clip Bulldogs 63-62 on a 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

Southeast Missourian

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Things did not look good for Southeast Missouri State late in Tuesday night's game.

In fact, the situation appeared close to hopeless.

Except the Redhawks never gave up hope.

"We just kept believing," sophomore point guard Roderick Pearson said. "We just stayed positive."

The Redhawks' faith was rewarded as they continued the program's best Ohio Valley Conference start since the NCAA tournament season of 1999-2000.

Sophomore guard Jimmy Drew swished a 3-pointer with one second remaining as Southeast pulled out an improbable 63-62 victory over host Samford.

"Wow. That's about all you can say," Southeast coach Scott Edgar said. "We just hung in there and found a way to win."

Edgar often talks about how sweet road wins are.

He acknowledged with a smile that Tuesday's triumph, in Southeast's first OVC road game of the season, was even sweeter than normal.

"It's got the cherry and the icing on it," Edgar said after the Redhawks moved to 7-4 overall and 3-0 in OVC play with their third straight win that vaulted them into sole possession of first place in the league.

The Redhawks fought an uphill struggle virtually the entire night against Samford's patient, deliberate style of play.

Southeast, which trailed most of the way, was behind 32-21 at halftime and 37-23 early in the second half.

The Redhawks rallied to grab two leads, including 47-46 with just over five minutes remaining.

But Samford (4-5, 1-1) used a 9-0 run to apparently grab control at 55-47 with under two minutes remaining.

Junior wing Jaycen Herring and junior guard Kenard Moore both hit 3-pointers, but Southeast was still down 60-55 with under 50 seconds left.

While admitting the situation did not look good, Moore said the Redhawks "never gave up. We kept believing and just took it play by play."

Pearson drove for a basket with 45 seconds left that made it 60-57, then Samford turned the ball over.

Drew answered with a 3-pointer at the 20-second mark for a 60-60 tie, but Samford's Travis Peterson was fouled by senior center Mike Rembert on a shot inside with 7.5 seconds to play.

Peterson made both free throws to put the Bulldogs back up 62-60.

Southeast had no more timeouts, but Edgar said Pearson had been instructed to tell his teammates that all they needed for a tie was a two-point basket.

"I thought Rod might go to the basket, but I think he saw it was congested in there," Edgar said.

Pearson said that's exactly what he saw as he took the inbound pass and drove from the Southeast end to the free-throw line before stopping.

"I thought about it [going all the way to the basket]," Pearson said. "But I knew they'd pack it in and I saw Jimmy."

Drew was spotted up on the right side, behind the 3-point line. He received Pearson's pass and his shot hit nothing but net with exactly 1 second remaining.

"They gave me some room and I took it," Drew said. "It felt good when I let it go."

Drew, who entered the contest as the OVC's third-best 3-pointer shooter at 48.4 percent (15-of-31), made all four of his attempts from beyond the arc against the Bulldogs.

"I felt good in warmups," Drew said.

As a prolific scorer at Anna-Jonesboro (Ill.) High School, Drew estimated that he probably made a game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds "once or twice."

Drew grinned when he added "but this is the biggest shot of my career."

Samford, needing to go the length of the floor, committed a turnover to seal the Redhawks' victory.

"To go on the road like this, it's a real big win for us," Pearson said.

Herring led Southeast offensively with 16 points, 10 in the second half.

Moore hit 4-of-7 from 3-point range and scored 13 points.

Drew added 12 points on those four 3-pointers and Pearson chipped in 11 points.

"We had a lot of people make big plays," Edgar said.

Southeast continued its run of big second halves as the Redhawks shot 50 percent (16-of-32) over the final 20 minutes, after shooting 26.9 percent (7-of-26) in the opening period.

The Redhawks hit 6-of-10 3-pointers in the second half and finished the game 10-of-20 from long distance.

"I always say the game is played in two halves," said Edgar, who believes Southeast often tires out its opponents late because of depth. "Normally we'll play more people in the second half than anybody else."

Southeast survived despite getting no points from its Nos. 3 and 4 scorers.

Senior forward Brandon Foust, averaging 11.5 points, did not play in the second half after Edgar said his knee "started bothering him late in the first half."

Sophomore forward Calvin Williams, averaging 10.3 points, also was held scoreless, although he grabbed a team-high eight rebounds as the Redhawks won the boards 40-29.

"It was just a great win, and it's great to be 3-0 in the OVC," Edgar said.

The Redhawks will try to match the 1999-2000's squad for the program's best OVC start at 4-0 when they visit Jacksonville (Ala.) State on Thursday night.

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