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Southeast improves to 6-0 in OVC with victory
Foust scored a career-high 25 points to lead the Redhawks.
CHARLESTON, Ill. -- If the Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team considered its visit to Eastern Illinois a potential trap game, the Redhawks never took the bait.
Southeast built a big lead and held off the Panthers 82-71 on Saturday night to continue the program's best Ohio Valley Conference start since the 1998-99 season.
The Redhawks improved their OVC record to 6-0 as they remained atop the league standings.
Only the 1998-99 Southeast squad, which won its first seven conference games, has started league play better since the university joined the OVC in 1991.
"It's a good feeling to be 6-0," senior center Mike Rembert said. "We've still got a long way to go, but we're definitely on a roll right now."
At 11-5 overall after winning for the seventh time in eight games, the Redhawks have already matched their victory total from all of coach Scott Edgar's first season a year ago (11-20).
"They're doing a lot of great things," Edgar said. "I'm happy for the kids."
Edgar and Southeast's players said they feared EIU (2-12, 1-5) after the Panthers broke an 11-game losing streak Thursday by beating Murray State.
"We knew this could be a trap game," Rembert said. "We saw they beat Murray, and that opened up our eyes a little bit."
The trap never materialized as the Redhawks jumped on EIU early and did not let the shorthanded Panthers -- playing without leading scorer Romain Martin (foot problem) -- up until late.
Southeast scored the game's first eight points and held EIU without a field goal for nearly seven minutes.
Freshman center Will Bogan came off the bench to score six early points as the Redhawks built a 14-4 lead.
Brandon Foust took care of EIU for the rest of the half, which ended with the Redhawks up 37-23, after they once led 30-14.
The senior forward, recently inserted into the starting lineup after coming off the bench most of the season, had 16 points and seven rebounds in the opening period.
Foust hit 3-of-4 3-pointers in the half, after entering the contest 7-of-19 from beyond the arc.
"They were getting me the ball, I hit a couple of 3s and they kept feeding me," said Foust, who finished with a career-high 25 points and added 10 rebounds for his fourth straight double-figure rebounding performance.
Foust also contributed three assists and three steals.
"Brandon is playing really good, and he's playing consistent," Edgar said.
Also scoring in double figures for Southeast were junior wing Jaycen Herring (12 points), Rembert (10) and sophomore point guard Roderick Pearson (10).
"Once again we got a lot of contributions from a lot of people," Edgar said.
Edgar was pleased with many things, most notably Southeast's season-low 11 turnovers and the Redhawks' 21-of-27 performance from the free-throw line.
"I liked the fact we got our turnovers down in an up-and-down game, and that we hit our free throws," Edgar said.
He also liked that Southeast shot 55.6 percent in the second half and held EIU to 27.3 percent in the opening period.
"We did a lot of good things tonight," Edgar said.
What looked like a routine win for the Redhawks became semi-interesting when EIU shaved a 16-point second-half deficit to 70-65 with just under 4 minutes remaining.
But Southeast scored nine of the next 10 points to regain control, the run highlighted by Pearson's fast-break dunk with 47 seconds left that made it 79-66.
"We're just excited we're winning," Pearson said. "It feels real good to be 6-0."
Southeast will have an opportunity to match the program's best OVC start against its archrival as Murray State visits the Show Me Center on Monday night.
"It would be great to be part of history," Foust said.