Southeast drops thriller
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Roderick Pearson's shot in the closing seconds wouldn't fall.
MURRAY, Ky. -- The Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team got back to the type of play that marked its 6-0 Ohio Valley Conference start.
But all the Redhawks had to show for their best performance in a while was their sixth straight loss.
Murray State junior guard Tyler Holloway hit two free throws with 5.8 seconds left for the winning margin as the host Racers squeezed out an 86-85 victory.
A national television audience watched Saturday's well-played, back-and-forth thriller that the Redhawks said has them encouraged for the rest of the year.
That however, did little to sooth their initial disappointment.
"We played as a team. I think we got our swagger back," sophomore point guard Roderick Pearson said. "We're still disappointed."
Added junior guard Kenard Moore: "I'm encouraged. Everybody played together. We got our chemistry back. We can build on this. But we're still on a six-game losing streak."
The skid has dropped the Redhawks' record to 11-11 overall and 6-6 in OVC play.
Murray State is even hotter then Southeast had been.
With their seventh straight win, the Racers improved to 12-7 overall and 8-3 in the OVC as they swept the season series from the Redhawks.
But unlike the Racers' 79-51 romp in Cape Girardeau on Jan. 7 -- which began Southeast's losing streak -- this one went to the wire as the Redhawks played without suspended coach Scott Edgar.
"You have to give a lot of credit to them," Holloway said. "I think they came in and put it to us early."
Southeast, controlling the second part of the first half, led 44-32 late before carrying a 47-39 advantage into the break.
It was 58-48 early in the final period when the Racers used a 12-2 run to pull even at 60-60 with just over 13 minutes remaining.
There were seven lead changes and seven ties the rest of the way, with no advantage greater than six points.
Over the final five minutes alone, there were five lead changes and one tie, with no margin larger than three points.
"They were ready to play," Murray State junior guard Kevin Thomas said of the Redhawks.
The game ultimately was decided on a play during which Holloway had few options.
Holloway drove toward the right side and was about 15 feet from the basket when he was met by a double team.
It didn't look like Holloway would even be able to get off a decent shot, but Southeast senior center Mike Rembert was called for a foul with 5.8 seconds left.
Holloway, an 86 percent free-throw shooter -- he's better than 90 percent in OVC play -- swished both to put the Racers up 86-85.
"I was just trying to make something happen," Holloway said. "I saw an opening. ... He totally fouled me."
Southeast assistant Zac Roman, serving as the Redhawks' lead coach in Edgar's absence, did not take the bait when asked about the late whistle.
Nor did Roman bite about the Racers attempting 18 second-half free throws to four for Southeast. Murray State took 30 foul shots in the game to 17 by the Redhawks.
"Some calls are going to go our way, some calls are going to go their way. That's basketball," Roman said. "He [Holloway] did a great job of creating contact."
Pearson drove the length of the floor and got near the basket in the closing seconds.
There was some contact, but nothing was called as Pearson's short runner in traffic hit the front of the rim.
Southeast freshman center Will Bogan -- who in the first half was successful on the first 3-point attempt of his college career -- got an off-balance try at a tip-in, but it didn't come close as the buzzer sounded.
"Rod Pearson made a great play to the basket. That's what we wanted to do," Roman said. "He got bumped a little, but it was a good no-call."
The Redhawks had chances to put the game away a bit earlier, especially when Pearson went to the foul line on a 1-and-1 with 31 seconds left and Southeast up 85-82.
Pearson, shooting better than 73 percent from the line, missed the front end. Holloway answered with two free throws at the 22 second mark.
With 17 seconds left and Southeast up one, Pearson lost control of a long pass along the sideline near mid-court. The ball went out of bounds, setting up Murray State's go-ahead possession.
"I tried to take off before I caught the ball," Pearson said.
Junior wing Jaycen Herring and Moore both scored 14 points to lead Southeast. Herring also had eight rebounds and five assists.
Moore hit 4-of-5 first-half 3-pointers -- all from deep -- to pace the Redhawks with 12 points in the opening period.
Rembert had his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Pearson added 11 points and seven assists.
"We knew they'd give us their best run. We did a pretty good job until the end," Herring said. "We played our hearts out."
During the previous five games, Southeast shot 41.6 percent from the field, including 28.8 percent from 3-point range.
Saturday, the Redhawks made 52.4 percent of their field-goal attempts and hit 7-of-17 3-pointers (41.2 percent). They also were below their season average in turnovers with 15.
The performance wasn't quite enough to offset a strong showing by the Racers, who shot 41.8 percent, but made 23-of-30 free throws and committed only eight turnovers -- one in the second half